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Arsenic-based therapy shown to help eradicate leukemia-initiating cells
BOSTON -- In both leukemia and solid tumors, there exists among the multitude of warrior cancer cells a small subgroup that work undercover, patiently lying in wait to launch their attacks. Known as either cancer initiating cells (CICs) or leukemia initiating cells (LICs), these stealth populations are impervious to conventional chemotherapy and undaunted by targeted cancer therapies. When a leukemia patient relapses following a period of remission, it is the LICs that bear responsibility for the disease?s reemergence.
The secret to the survival abilities of these cells has been unclear. But in a paradoxical discovery, a research team led by investigators at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center (BIDMC) has found that a tumor suppressor protein known as PML appears to be the factor that enables LICs to maintain their quiescence ? the inert state that protects them from being destroyed by cancer therapies ? and suggests that inhibition of PML is a promising target for new therapeutics.