The Leukemia Stem Cell Group receives an Innovation award from Caixa Impulse
The Leukemia Stem Cell Group, led by Ruth Risueño, has been selected for a Caixa Impulse Award 2016 with their project Novel Leukemia Therapy: Development of new therapeutic approaches for Leukemia
Acute Myeloid Leukemia (AML) is a hematological neoplasia characterized by the rapid expansion of immature myeloid progenitors in the bone marrow. Patients normally have a poor prognosis; if treatment is effective it is often followed by a relapse and survival rates 5 years after diagnosis have remained at 30-50%. For these reasons a new therapeutic option is desperately needed by AML patients.
The Leukemia Stem Cell Group is working specifically on this problem and they are studying a family of drugs already used to treat other conditions with no relation to Leukemia. The target of these drugs is a well-known membrane receptor and pre-clinical studies have shown it to be present in all AML patient samples, indicating that there is a potential treatment for all AML patients. The use of this family of drugs would be an innovative approach in oncology and potentially a very valuable tool.
The CaixaImpulse scheme is the Innovation and Technology project of the "la Caixa" Foundation aimed at providing promising bio-health projects with an injection of funds and support in the form of specialized training, mentoring and networking to support scientific projects and spin-offs.
Ruth Risueño explains that the award not only brings much-needed funding but also provides valuable opportunities for scientists to gain skills and business know-how to help them steer a promising project to success. In this case she has already set up a spin-off company Leukos, to develop the technology. The next stage is to carry out large-scale clinical trials to test the treatment in patients, something that is made easier as the drugs in question have already been approved as safe for use for other diseases.