A study led by Dr. Mick Bhatia at McMaster University shows that a readily available drug that induces fat cell production in bone marrow also suppresses leukemia while promoting the production of healthy blood cells.
“The focus of chemotherapy and existing standard-of-care is on killing cancer cells but instead we took a completely different approach which changes the environment the cancer cells live in,” Dr. Bhatia, Director and Senior Scientist with McMaster’s Stem Cell and Cancer Research Institute, explained in a press. The study published in the journal Nature Cell Biology.
Increasing fat cells in the bone marrow creates an environment that favors the growth of healthy blood cells and blocks out leukemic cells. The team targeted a single cell type in one tissue and had positive results when tested in mice.
Dr. Bhatia believes that there is immediate translational potential with minimal side effects as the drug can be given in a much lower dose and with a shorter duration than in its intended use for diabetes treatment. In an interview with CBC, Dr. Bhatia said that the team is looking to move to clinical trials on humans within two to three years.