Acute myeloid leukemia (AML) is a cancer of the white blood cells (WBC), for which there are few effective treatments. However, researchers have found that AML cells depend on a protein called SCP4 for survival. Professor Christopher Vakoc and Sofya Polyanskaya, a graduate student, from the US CSHL (Cold Spring Laboratory) have found a new therapeutic approach to the disease.
SCP4 is a type of protein that regulates the activities of cells by removing phosphate from other proteins. However, another type of protein, kinase, blocks the phosphate. The number of phosphates added or subtracted from a protein (level of phosphorylation) determines its activity.
Sofya Polyanskaya found that SCP4 binds to one or two of its kind kinases, known as STK35 and PDIK1L. Therefore, it becomes necessary for phosphate and kinase to attach for AML cells to survive. In such a situation, if the gene that produces SCP4 is inactivated, cancer cells can be killed.
What is Leukemia?
Blood cell cancer is also called leukemia. Blood cells have broad categories, including WBCs (white blood cells), platelets, and RBCs (red blood cells). According to WebMD, leukemia usually refers to white blood cell cancer.
WBCs protect the body from invading viruses, fungi, and bacteria, but cannot do their job when affected by leukemia.
Leukemia can be chronic or acute in the beginning. Cancer cells multiply rapidly in acute leukemia. In the case of chronic leukemia, the disease progresses slowly and the first symptoms can be quite mild.
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