Leukemia Treatment Could Involve Drugs That Block DNA Repair Defects

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According to a new study published in the journal Cell Reports at the National University of Singapore (NUS) in Singapore, Singapore, researchers have discovered a drug that may be useful for the treatment of leukemia and other cancers in which cancer cells have DNA repair defects.


The drug, a poly (ADP-ribose) polymerase (PARP) inhibitor, in combination with standard chemotherapy could be more effective at treating leukemia than chemotherapy alone. In addition, the researchers found that the inhibition of Runt-related transcription factor (RUNX) genes causes DNA repair defects and promotes the development and growth of leukemia and other cancers.


RUNX genes are often inactivated in leukemia and other cancers. Specifically, RUNX1 is frequently mutated in leukemia and RUNX3 is linked to the development of the disease. According to Motomi Osato, MD, PhD, senior principal investigator from the Cancer Science Institute of Singapore at the NUS, PARP inhibitors have been around for a while, but this study demonstrates their effect on leukemia and other cancers.


The team is also conducting a preclinical study with PARP inhibitors to test drug efficacy. There are currently no PARP inhibitors approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, but there are some undergoing clinical trials.

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A drug originally designed for killing cancer cells could potentially be used to treat leukaemia.
A team of scientists led by Research Associate Professor Motomi Osato and Professor Yoshiaki Ito from the Cancer Science Institute of Singapore (CSI Singapore) at the National University of Singapore (NUS) found that a drug originally designed for killing a limited type of cancer cells with DNA repair defects could potentially be used to treat leukaemia and other cancers.

DNA Damage Persistent DNA damage, visualized by gammaH2AX staining (red dots), in hematopoietic stem cells could lead to leukemia. Credit: National University of Singapore The new study suggests that treatment with poly (ADP-ribose) polymerase (PARP) inhibitors, together with standard chemotherapy drugs, could be more effective in combating leukaemia.

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