Hormel Institute team identifies breakthrough for leukemia therapy

Published 8:33 am Tuesday, July 25, 2017

The Hormel Institute announced that research at the institute has identified a breakthrough for leukemia therapy on Monday.

According to a press release, a research team led by Dr. Shujun Liu investigated the role of receptor tyrosine kinases (RTKs) in DNA methylation abnormalities. The findings were published in the journal “Clinical Cancer Research.”

“We discovered the first evidence that RTKs are modulators of DNA methyltransferase (DNMT)-dependent DNA methylation in leukemia cells,” Liu said. “This is very significant because for the first time we could document that RTK inhibitors impair DNMT1 expression and reactivate tumor suppressor genes. Our discoveries unravel a signaling interaction between RTKs and DNMTs in the development of leukemia and potentially, across different types of cancer, shedding light on molecular basis of epigenetic deregulation and cancer pathogenesis.”

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Aberrant DNA methylation is a key hallmark of cancers and impairment of regulation in RTKs is common. The discovery opens the door to using RTK inhibitors to benefit patients with aberrant DNA methylation.

“We identified new types of DNA agents, which opens an entire new window of targeted cancer therapy and significantly  expands the pool of DNA methylation inhibitors,” Lui said. “Our hope is this will prevent cancer from progressing and help protect and extend human lives.”