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Leukemia stem cells have important clinical characteristics

A new study suggests that acute myelogenous leukemia (AML) contains a rare type of cell with stem cell characteristics called "leukemia stem cells" that can predict clinical outcomes better than normal AML cells, the organization of physicists reported recently. The research is published in the latest issue of the journal nature medicine.

Cancer scientists have been debating whether all the cells in a tumor have the same role or whether some cancer cells have more influence, which has been an important question for experimental models over the past decade. Previous xenotransplantation studies have also shown that some solid tumors and leukemias are composed of graded cells maintained by tumor stem cells (CSCs), but the relationship between the tumor stem cell model and patients has not been clear. This is the first time that the clinical importance of leukemic stem cells has been revealed.

Pioneers in the field of cancer stem cells, John Dick, led the international team through to the healthy stem cells, leukemia stem cells and clinical data sorting, analysis, and comparison, discovered that leukemia stem cells have the same set of genes with normal stem cells or characteristics, which could help to accurately predict the clinical course of patients. Patients with a strong expression of this stem cell trait had a shorter survival time than the average patient.

The genes in these stem cell signals provide a new drug target that could be used to eliminate leukemia stem cells. The genes also show potential biomarkers for acute myeloid leukemia, which could be used to guide more effective treatment in patients. In the long run, this information could also be used to personalise cancer treatment and provide patients with the right drugs, rather than treating groups of patients with the same treatments that are now available everywhere.

The researchers said the study could provide a model for testing the clinical importance of cancer stem cells in solid tumors and various leukemias, advancing research on cancer stem cells in all perspectives.
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