Acute myeloid leukemia (AML) is one of the leading causes of cancer-related deaths in young adults and a highly lethal disease in older adults. Most AML patients do not survive longer than two years after diagnosis, due to a lack of effective treatment options and inadequate molecular tools to monitor disease prognosis. Treating patients considered favourable (with chemotherapy) or adverse (stem cell transplant) is relatively straightforward. It is the patients who fall into the middle, intermediate, category who present the most problems.
Leucegene’s work has led to the development of a new prognostic test, enabling physicians to predict responses to available AML therapies for patients. We are currently working to bring this test into the clinic.
Links for AML patients:
AML Global Portal: http://www.amlglobalportal.com
American cancer Society: http://www.cancer.org/cancer/leukemia-acutemyeloidaml/
Canadian Cancer Society: http://www.cancer.ca
Cancer Research UK: https://www.cancer.gov
Cancer Treatment Centers of America: http://www.cancercenter.com/leukemia/types/tab/acute-myeloid-leukemia/
Leukemia and Lymphoma Society of Canada: http://www.llscanada.org
Medline Plus: https://medlineplus.gov/acutemyeloidleukemia.html
National Cancer Institute: https://www.cancer.gov
The Leukaemia Foundation: http://www.leukaemia.org.au
The Leucegene project has characterized several AML subgroups from a cohort of patient samples, which present new information about the disease, particularly for patients who currently fall into an intermediate category where hematopoietic stem cell transplant and current chemotherapy approaches are not ideal. Currently, physicians are not able to identify optimal treatment for fully 30 percent of AML patients.
Our goal is to reduce that number to less than 10 percent. Leucegene’s work has led to the imminent worldwide implementation of a new prognostic test, enabling physicians to predict responses to available AML therapies for patients.
Leucegene is also conducting research, using new, state-of-the-art genomic technologies to identify previously unknown genetic variants and to develop additional prognostic tests based on this knowledge. The team aims to identify key vulnerabilities in AML that can be targeted by existing drugs not currently used in AML treatments, enabling the identification of appropriate therapies for more patients.
To facilitate the integration of our discoveries in the health care system, we conducted:
- A study to highlight the strengths and weaknesses of the Canadian federal and provincial regulatory approval models and to outline the criteria for the legal and ethical recognition of novel technologies.
- Recommendations regarding the obligation of clinical lab directors to inform treating physicians of clinically valuable information resulting from AML research.
- A cost effectiveness study on AML diagnostic and prognostic tests and therapy.
The team has discovered several therapeutic targets for AML and will shortly initiate the repositioning of a number of clinically available drugs for specific AML subgroups in clinical trial centers.
Characterisation of compounds that emerged from the various screens performed by the team is also underway leading to drug discovery programs to improve the prognostics of poor outcome AML subgroups.