Leukemia may be one of the worst nightmares one can imagine. The current treatment options are complex and are not useful for everyone. However, scientists at UCLA have just discovered a protein that can help treat leukemia and other blood cancers, which is a breakthrough.
What scientists found exactly
We see scientists finding seemly amazing things and publishing seemly amazing titles nearly every day, but clearly we are not smart enough to understand all their works and significances. But that’s ok. We don’t need to be that smart. Let's put it simply.
Basically, blood stem cells in bone marrow cannot easily self-renew or replicate themselves, but scientists have found that the protein MLLT3 triggers this process.
Then you may ask, “So...?” So, it matters a lot.
Why this is important
In patients with blood cancers, their bone marrow and lymphatic system create abnormal blood cells that don't work as well as they should.
Traditional treatment options often involve transplanting healthy bone marrow, where there are healthy blood stem cells that can produce all kinds of blood cells. Doctors can’t directly transplant blood stem cells because once they are removed from bone marrow, they quickly die or change into other cells.
However, a bone marrow transplant has many limitations:
— It is difficult to find a suitable bone marrow donor.
— The immune system may reject the foreign cells.
— The number of transplanted stem cells may not be enough to treat the patient.
Fortunately, the UCLA researchers discovered a link between MLLT3 protein and the ability of blood stem cells to self-renew. They maintained the MLLT3 protein levels in lab dishes through a vector and found that blood stem cells were able to multiply at least twelve-fold. The finding sheds light on more effective treatments for blood diseases.
The researchers are now planning to further study the protein and try to control it without the vector. If it is successful, we may be able to beat blood cancer in the near future.