Funded by the Constellation Gold Network Distributors in honor of the Dick Vitale Fund
Leukemia is the most common cancer among children in the US. It is also the leading cause of death from cancer before 20 years of age. Despite advances in diagnosis and treatment, a subset of leukemias affecting infants predict poor outcomes. Leukemic cells in these patients carry a fusion gene known as MLL rearrangement (MLL-r). MLL-r is critical for the development of leukemia cells, and has been well studied over the years. However, current therapies targeting MLL-r showed modest clinical activity. Therefore, there is a need of finding additional drug targets. We have found a previously unknown protein complex required for the survival of MLL-r leukemic cells. In this project, we propose to test if blocking this complex delay the growth of MLL-r leukemia in cells and animals. We will also investigate the molecular mechanisms behind. Taken together, our work will provide preclinical evidence for a new protein complex as a potential target for MLL-r leukemias. More broadly, our technologies will help the study of other childhood cancers.