Grants - Florida - Designated Grants - 2021

Luisa Cimmino, PhD

Funded in partnership with Miami Dolphins Foundation

Vitamins play an essential role in keeping our immune system healthy by maintaining normal blood cell production. Certain types of vitamins can also help in the prevention and treatment of blood cancers. Vitamin A has been used for decades to treat a subset of blood cancer patients with defects in a protein that relies on vitamin A for its normal activity. More recently, our work has shown that vitamin C can also stop blood cancers from forming, and slow cancer growth, by maintaining or restoring the activity of a protein known as TET2. Loss of TET2 function causes an increase in the growth of blood cells that drive cancer development. Mutations in TET2 that lower its activity are frequently found in patients with blood cancers. TET2 is also frequently defective in the blood cells of the healthy elderly population that can put them at a much greater risk of developing a blood cancer. The goal of our work is to understand how we can maintain TET2 activity to prevent and block cancers of the blood. Interestingly, vitamin A treatment can increase TET2 levels in cells, which in combination with vitamin C restores TET2 activity more than either treatment alone to stop the growth of blood cancer. Our goal in this study is to model combination treatment strategies of vitamin A and vitamin C to prevent blood cancer formation and growth that can be used as a potential therapy to treat blood cancer patients with a loss in TET2 activity.