2018 September 20

Recent research provides a potential new therapy to treat myelodysplastic syndromes and chronic myelomonocytic leukemia

Recent research, led by Ruth Risueño, lead researcher at the Josep Carreras Leukaemia Research Institute, published in the prestigious international journal Scientific Reports, has found a potential new therapy for patients affected by two kinds of blood cancer, myelodysplastic syndromes and chronic myelomonocytic leukaemia, two diseases for which, at present, treatment is insufficiently successful and can have serious side effects.

Risueño's team, in particular, Antònia Banús-Mulet, has found a new therapeutic target for both of these diseases that is also present in acute myeloid leukaemia. This target, the serotonin receptor, can be inhibited by drugs that have already been approved in our country and which are currently used in the treatment of patients suffering from Parkinson’s disease.This discovery should make clinical trials more feasible in the near future.

Background to the project

The discovery of this therapeutic target for acute myeloid leukaemia was made some years ago by the same team of scientists. Previous work by the research group had shown that the serotonin receptor, a membrane molecule mainly present in neurons, was a potential therapeutic target for acute myeloid leukaemia. Throughout this time Dr. Risueño's team has been developing a possibly successful future treatment for patients suffering from acute myeloid leukaemia together with Leukos Biotech, a biotechnology company established in 2015 by the Josep Carreras Research Institute and the Foundation that also bears his name. At the present time Leukos Biotech is engaged in a clinical trial with patients suffering from acute myeloid leukaemia. It is of fundamental importance to note that treatment with the drugs approved for use in Parkinson disease showed, in a preclinical laboratory environment, that they were capable of destroying cancer cells without affecting healthy blood cells.

Myelodysplastic syndromes and chronic myelomonocytic leukaemia

Myelodysplastic syndromes (MDS) and chronic myelomonocytic leukaemia (CMML) are both blood cancers that have a variety of symptoms and different treatments, depending on the severity of the disease and the patient's condition. Despite the great efforts made by the scientific community, most patients do not achieve complete remission from the cancer and eventually succumb to the disease. These diseases are characterised by their variable evolution towards leukaemia and relatively short life expectation. At the present time there are no effective treatments and there is no well-defined therapeutic scheme. In the case of young patients a bone marrow transplant might be proposed. It is the only treatment that might provide a cure, but it can cause serious complications resulting from infection and/or rejection of the transplanted bone marrow.


Article reference

Antònia Banús-Mulet, Amaia Etxabe, Josep M Cornet-Masana, Miguel Ángel Torrente, Maria Carmen Lara-Castillo, Laura Palomo, Meritxell Nomdedeu, Marina Diaz-Beya, Francesc Solé, Benet Nomdedeu, Jordi Esteve, Ruth M. Risueño. Serotonin receptor type 1B constitutes a therapeutic target for MDS and CMML. Scientific Reports. 2018;8:13883. https://rdcu.be/6Vsf