Cancer is the uncontrollable transformation of healthy cells into cancerous cells. However, it refers to a group of over 100 distinct diseases, one of which is leukaemia, or blood cancer.

Leukemia starts in blood-forming cells, such as bone marrow, and causes an influx of abnormal blood cells into the bloodstream. Furthermore, scientists do not know what causes leukaemia, and treatment can be difficult. It is entirely dependent on the type of leukaemia the patient has, as well as other factors. However, there are resources and methods available to help improve the efficacy of the treatment.

A recent study has now aided in the advancement of leukaemia treatment methods. According to a new report published by The Jerusalem Post, a group of Spanish and Israeli researchers from Barcelona, Spain, were able to convert highly proliferative leukaemia cells to normal cells by changing chemical modifications of its messenger RNAs.

A cancer cell changes into a noncancerous cell.

Despite extensive research into cancer and the change of healthy cells into malignant cells, scientists know very less about the possibilities of the opposite process.

“We know that one method used by human tumours to avoid drug efficacy is to change its appearance, to become another similar cancer that is not sensitive to the meds used,” the team told the Jerusalem Post in an interview. “To avoid treatment, lymphoid leukemias, for example, are switched to a myeloid strain.”

The researchers developed an in vitro model that converts leukaemia cells into harmless immune cells known as macrophages. Furthermore, the chemical changes happening on malignant cells’ messenger RNA were altered during their transformation into macrophages. Because of the change in angle caused by 2 adjacent chemical bonds in such molecules, the proteins that define leukaemia become unstable, which allows macrophages to come out.

A promising first step

“The 1st preclinical drug against this target are already being developed in model systems of malignant blood diseases,” said Dr. Manel Esteller, dir. of Josep Carreras Leukemia Research Institute at University of Barcelona.

The findings have yet to be tested on humans. However, it is very promising for leukaemia treatment and encourages further research into a novel approach. Who knows, maybe transforming leukaemia cells into noncancerous cells will be the next breakthrough in cancer treatment.

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