A researcher at Israel’s Ben-Gurion University of the Negev claims to have developed an innovative stem cell treatment that could potentially cure leukemia. The per capita fatality rate from leukemia in Israel is the fourth highest in the world. In the United States, the disease claims nearly 25,000 lives each year.
Current Leukemia Treatments
The majority of currently available treatments for leukemia, which is a type of blood cancer, are focused on chemotherapy and stem cell transplantation. Dr. Roi Gazit has been intensively researching more targeted therapies for the disease in the hope that they will be more effective and even curative.
Current leukemia therapies have several advantages, but are nonspecific. Gazit’s research is focused on identifying treatments for specific sub-types of the disease. The problem is that one size does not fit all. Tailor-made therapies are more likely to succeed in treating the disease.
Targeted Stem Cell Therapy for Leukemia
Gazit’s research involves using hematopoietic stem cells from the bone marrow to treat the cancer. These stem cells have the ability to divide and generate different types of cells found in human blood. This ability of stem cells is being used to target some of the most serious diseases that afflict the human body.
In his experiments, Gazit utilized primary stem cells cultured from the study subject. He then turned these cells into malignant leukemia cells in mice to study their behavior and the spread of the cancer. The idea was to develop a treatment that would halt the spread of leukemia with the help of hematopoietic stem cells. Gazit hopes to not only develop a cure for leukemia but also aid other scientists who are working on different types of immunotherapy. The experiments will help us gain a deeper understanding of leukemia, and this understanding will translate into better treatments and a cure in the future, he says.