Joseph T. Opferman, Ph.D, associate member, St. Jude Faculty at St. Jude Children?s Research Hospital in Memphis, Tennessee (USA), is one of the leading scientists involved in identifying a protein that certain high-risk acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL) cells need to survive and have used that knowledge to develop a two-drug combination therapy that offers a more effective method of killing tumor cells. In doing so, Opferman and his team are giving new hope to children and adults with the disease.
The scientists focused on Philadelphia chromosome-positive ALL (Ph-positive ALL), a high-risk cancer that accounts for about 40% of ALL in adults and about 5% in children. The disease is named for a chromosomal rearrangement that brings together pieces of the BCR and ABL genes. This leads to production of the BCR-ABL protein, which fuels the unchecked cell growth that is a hallmark of cancer.
The study is published in the August 29, 2013 online edition of the journal Blood.
For more information:
 Koss B, Morrison J, Perciavalle RM, Singh H, Rehg JE, Williams RT, Opferman JT. Requirement for anti-apoptotic MCL-1 in the survival of BCR-ABL B-lineage acute lymphoblastic leukemia. Blood. 2013 Jul 23. [Epub ahead of print][Article][PubMed]
 Novel Strategy May Offer an Effective Treatment Option for High-risk Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia – Onco’Zine [Article]
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