(ChemotherapyAdvisor) – Survivin is a prognostic biomarker in acute myeloid leukemia (AML) and remains a potentially important target for leukemia therapy, according to a team of researchers of The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, Houston, TX. This conclusion is based on a study entitled “Survivin is highly expressed in CD34+38− leukemic stem/progenitor cells and predicts poor clinical outcomes in AML“, which is published in the July issue of the journal Blood.

Based on its prosurvival, antiapoptotic functions, survivin plays important roles in cell proliferation and survival and is highly expressed in leukemias. The purpose of this study was to better understand the role of survivin in AML. To accomplish this aim, the investigators profiled survivin expression in samples obtained from 511 newly diagnosed AML patients and in CD34+38 AML stem/progenitor cells.

The investigators  observed and reported higher levels of survivin levels in bone marrow than in paired peripheral blood leukemic cells (n=140, P=.0001) and that higher survivin levels significantly predicted shorter overall (P=.016) and event-free (P=.023) survival. “Importantly, survivin levels were significantly higher in CD34+38 AML stem/progenitor cells than in bulk blasts and total CD34+ AML cells (P<.05). Survivin expression correlated with the expression of multiple proteins involved with cell proliferation and survival,” the investigators wrote.

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The investigators concluded: “These results suggest that survivin is a prognostic biomarker in AML and that survivin, which is overexpressed in AML stem/progenitor cells, remains a potentially important target for leukemia therapy.”