Leukemia stem cells have important clinical characteristics

according to a new study, acute myeloid leukemia (AML) contains a rare type of cell with stem cell properties called "leukemia stem cells" that better predict clinical outcomes than normal AML cells. The discoveries are 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 effect or certain cancer cells are actually more influential, which has been a major concern of experimental models for 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 the patient remains unclear. This is the first time to reveal the clinical importance of leukemia stem cells.

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 strong expression of this stem cell trait have a shorter survival time than the general population.

The genes in these stem cell signals provide a new medicine target that could be used to eliminate leukemia stem cells. These genes also show potential biomarkers for acute myelogenous leukemia, which could be used to guide more effective treatment of patients. In the long term, this information could also be used to personalise cancer treatment, providing patients with the right medicine, rather than treating groups of patients with the same treatments that are now used under every situation.

The researchers said the study could provide an example for testing the clinical importance of cancer stem cells in solid tumors and various leukemias, and could promote he whole field of cancer stem cell research.
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