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Thursday, 07 August 2008 21:22

Australia makes hopeful discovery in cure of a common leukemia

According to medical researchers at Princess Alexandra Hospital and the University of Queensland, a cure for chronic lymphocytic leukemia, a common type of leukemia, could possibly be developed as early as the year 2013.

The researchers from Princess Alexandra Hospital and the University of Queensland, both located in Brisbane, Queensland, Australia, have been developing a way to cancer cells (specifically, chroniclymphocytic leukemia cells) alive outside of the human body.

Their research is aimed at curing chronic lymphocytic leukaemia (CLL), also called chronic lymphoid leukemia, a type of leukemia, or cancer of the white blood cells (lymphocyes).

It is a blood cancer that affects a particular lymphocyte, the B cell, which in turn adversely affects the body's bone and blood marrow.

CCL causes premature blood cells to circulate within the human body. The DNA (deoxyribonucleic acid) of B cells are damaged by the cancer so that they are unable to fight off infection within the human body.

Devinder Gill, the lead medical scientist in the study, has reported that their research has found two “growth factors” that help to keep cancer cells alive outside of the human body. [The Tech Herald: “Australian researchers claim breakthrough against leukaemia”]

Please read page two for further information on the exciting new medical breakthrough by the Gill team.

Dr.  Gill is currently both the Chair of the Cancer Collaborative Group and the Director of Clinical Haematology and Research (Centre for Immunology and Cancer Research) at the Princess Alexandra Hospital.

The Gill team has been able to keep the cancer cells alive in a culture beaker for up to three months using one growth factor.

In addition, another growth factor has also been found that allows the cancer cells to stay alive for over three months outside the body.

They will now pursue, according to Gill, a way to block these two “growth factors” so as to be able to kill these cancer cells. Once this is accomplished, the researchers will be able to develop a way to cure chronic lymphocytic leukemia.

Gill adds, "By knowing what makes the cells grow we can now attempt to block these growth factors and therefore the cells will die. This will ultimately lead to more targeted therapies being developed, which will have the ability to cure the cancer." [Brisbane Times: “Brisbane scientists make cancer 'breakthrough'”]

The Gill team is hopeful that they will be able to have trial (non-human) treatments within five years, by the year 2013, and human trials within seven years, by the year 2015.

According to the National Cancer Institute, an estimated 15,340 new cases of CLL were diagnosed in 2007 within the United States, along with 4,500 deaths related to CLL.


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