New combination treatment targets pre-leukemia stem cells
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IMAGE: Craig T. Jordan and colleagues characterize and target pre-leukemia stem cells. view more 

Credit: University of Colorado Cancer Center

Your body’s blood cells are manufactured by hematopoietic stem cells in bone marrow. But just as regular, mature cells can become cancerous, so too can stem cells. When hematopoietic stem cells mutate in specific ways, the result can be damaged stem cells that create a type of pre-leukemic condition known as myelodysplastic syndrome, or MDS. On its own, MDS is a chronic condition that results in symptoms like anemia. In early stages, MDS can usually be managed with supportive care. However, as the disease progresses, about one in three cases of high-risk MDS will evolve into acute myeloid leukemia (AML), an extremely dangerous form of blood cancer that can be lethal.

There is no perfect treatment for MDS – current strategies include chemotherapy, which tends to be ineffective against cancer stem cells, and bone marrow transplant, which requires lengthy hospitalization, can include significant and lasting side effects, and is not appropriate for most MDS patients who tend to be older or more frail. A University of Colorado Cancer Center study published today in Nature Communications takes aim at the

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