Overview: Developing Personalized Treatments for
The University of Chicago has formed a unique research program to discover factors involved in the development of therapy-related (t-AML), a unique form of leukemia that occurs in patients who have already been treated successfully for another .
Using a systems biology approach, the research team aims to develop a global perspective of the biological processes that underlie this disease to identify new targets for therapies. The end goal of the research is not a single discovery, but rather a series of major discoveries that will facilitate clinical trials and the discovery of more effective, genomically-personalized therapies for patients with t-AML.
The success of this project should save countless lives and demonstrate to researchers around the world how to harness systems biology to fight cancer and other complex diseases.
Researchers at the University of Chicago have formed multidisciplinary teams to unravel the complex network of molecular interactions that take place during the development of leukemia. The effort is remarkable, if not unprecedented, in cancer research. Their discoveries will lead to not only the development of new therapies for leukemia that can be tailored to the individual patient, but also improvedstrategies for t-AML. Ultimately, the knowledge gained from this research will allow clinicians to:
- Reduce the incidence of t-AML by identifying individuals who are at risk; and
- Select the appropriate therapy for treatment of patients with a primary cancer to minimize their risk of developing secondary leukemia.
The success of this project should save countless lives and demonstrate to researchers around the world how to harnessto fight cancer and other complex diseases.
The University of Chicago research program is organized into six highly-integrated research teams. Through these interrelated teams, researchers are making a coordinated effort to gain a detailed understanding of leukemia. The research strategies for each team of investigators are choreographed so that findings from one team yield results that can be immediately handed off to another team. Teams are analyzing biological samples from the same patients, so the results generated can guide the experiments performed by other teams. This highly-integrated research approach allows investigators to identify cellular networks that are deregulated in leukemia more effectively. Building from this information, they can then simulate the cellular response to single drugs or new combinations of drugs using computational biology approaches.
This coordinated research effort will lead to:
- Genetic tests that identify cancer patients who may be at risk for t-AML, which would indicate to clinicians if their treatments should be modified to prevent the development of the disease;
- Chemical compounds that kill leukemia stem cells which give rise to t-AML, cells that are untouched by current drugs; and
- Clinical trials to prove the safety and effectiveness of promising new treatments and make them available to patients as soon as possible.