New Delhi: A group of Indian scientists have identified a new way to re-sensitise cells that become resistant to chemotherapy in some blood cancer patients.
Blood cancer or Chronic Myeloid Leukemia (CML) occurs when a subset of blood cells start dividing in an unregulated manner ultimately resulting in bone marrow failure. A drug –Imatinib Mesylate (IM) – is used to treat this cancer. But, oncologists are seeing growing number of cases of resistance to this drug, resulting in recurrence of the cancer.
Typically, Imatinib disrupts the activity of BCR-ABL, an abnormal protein which is generated due to certain chromosome level changes. This protein promotes unregulated proliferation of blood cells. In many cases, however, cancer cells become unresponsive to the drug leading to treatment failure or recurrence. Scientists at Indian Institute of Technology, Guwahati have sought to address this problem. Results of their study have been published in journal Science Reports.
“Our investigation shows that some key factors are responsible for such resistance which is in fact mediated by neighbouring non-cancerous cells. By blocking these molecules, the resistant cancer cells can be killed,” explained Dr Bithiah Grace Jaganathan, senior researcher at IIT Guwahati.
The research team has demonstrated in laboratory cell-based studies that by a combined approach – preventing adhesion of cancer cells with neighbouring healthy cells and inhibiting certain biological pathways – resistant cells can be re-sensitized to drugs. “Such an approach will help in treating patients who have become unresponsive to themainline cancer drug,” hopes Dr Jaganathan.
The researchers feel the study could help in effective treatment management as well.