Leukemia is a cancer of bone marrow that typically forms blood cells. The bone marrow of individuals suffering from leukemia produces abnormal WBCs (white blood cells) with improper functioning. Symptoms of leukemia include fatigue, swollen lymph nodes, weight loss, easy bleeding, etc. In the U.S it is the tenth most common form of cancer and it covers 3.5% cases of the new types of cancer. No potential treatment is available to cure leukemia.
Leukemia is causing deaths at a high rate and National Cancer Institute finds that in the U.S leukemia is the 5th main cause of cancer deaths. In 2019 around 22,840 individuals have been died due to leukemia. The 2nd common form of leukemia is AML (Acute Myeloid Leukemia) and the survival rate of people suffering from this disease is very low. Over 1/3 rd people after diagnosis survive only for about five years.
To attain a long time survival a new treatment is highly needed because the division rate of AMLs cells is much faster than the effectiveness of current therapy. Cancerous cells entirely use the metabolism of affected cells and enhance the function of the cell to divide and proliferate at an exceptional rate. Lingbo Zhang explained a crucial property of cancerous cells and revealed that the exceptional growth of cell can be attained by reprogramming the metabolic pathway of the leukemic cell.
The insane cell division of people suffering from AML has been observed by Lingbo Zhang and the group from Memorial Sloan Kettering and CSHL. It was found that the insane division depends on a vitamin (Vitamin B-6).
Vitamin B-6 is very important for the normal functioning of the body. It assists to produce RBCs and neurotransmitters as well as increases metabolism and cell growth. Zhang separated above 230 separated genes from white blood cells affected by Acute Myeloid leukemia and found that each gene in leukemic cells was highly operative.
Researchers used the technology to edit genes known as CRISPR that is used to replace altered sequence with normal sequence and blocked the activity of each abnormal gene. All the finding of this study is published in the journal of Cancer Cell and is available online to study.
Scientists found a gene that blocks the spread of abnormal cells by producing an enzyme called PDXK (pyridoxal kinase). Pyridoxal kinase prepares proteins that regulate vitamin B-6 usage. These proteins produce a functional form of vitamins.
In healthy cells, the enzyme activates the growth of vitamin B-6 only at the time of division. Vitamin B-6 is not needed all the time by healthy cells but researchers revealed that the production of this vitamin is very rapid during the division of cancerous cells. Vitamin B-6 helps in the spread of Acute Myeloid Leukemia cells as well as the spread of the disease.
Zhang found that leukemic cells need this enzyme for growth because the vitamin B-6 produced by it is an addiction for leukemic cells. Scott Lowe at MSK explained that the constituents needed for the growth and spread of cells are provided by vitamin B-6 and added that the pathway of vitamin-6 may lead to cancer.
A new effective therapy is required for cancer. Important functions like regulation of CNS and the brain are attained by vitamin-6 so limiting its intake my cause other complications. Zhang along with his colleagues aimed at developing a vaccine that effects pyridoxal enzyme and in turn stops vitamin B-6 use by cancerous cells and hope that a good treatment will be developed for this disease because a vaccine is required that not only check the proliferation of cancer but also prevent destroying healthy cells of the body that need vitamin B-6 for survival.