Grants - V Scholar Grants - Pennsylvania - 2021

Cihangir Duy, PhD, MS

Acute myeloid leukemia (AML) is an aggressive blood cancer that can recur after standard therapy. Although chemotherapy kills fast-growing AML cells, it often fails to destroy all cancer cells. As a result, the patient may appear to respond to therapy, but eventually the cancer returns. We found that the surviving cancer cells can overcome therapy by entering a senescence-like dormancy, allowing them to endure chemotherapy and resume cancerous activity after therapy has ended. The cancer cells become more aggressive than before treatment and showed changes in their epigenetic marks including DNA methylation. In this project, we will examine the mechanisms controlling the DNA methylation changes and their role in AML dormancy. Overall, this project will advance our understanding on the relevance of DNA methylation in cancer therapy and will define new therapeutic targets. Our long-term goal is to apply this information to develop new therapies to improve the survival of AML patients.