Acute lymphoblastic leukemia, or ALL, is the most common form of childhood cancer, making up 25% of cancer diagnoses in children under the age of 15. While the disease has about an 80% survival rate, that’s not good enough. Unfortunately, there are cases where cancer cells are resistant to chemotherapy. But researchers are working on a new therapy that could work on drug-resistant leukemia cells, which could one day make a big difference in survival rates!

A protein, called CD19-Ligand, is expressed by almost all of the cells in the body. Researchers fused this protein to a piece of another protein (sTRAIL) that kills cancer cells. By fusing the two together, the sTRAIL protein is much more effective at seeking out and killing leukemia cells. The resulting therapy has the long name “CD19L-sTRAIL.”

Using samples of aggressive leukemia cells taken from children with ALL, researchers had very promising results in the laboratory. Not only did test tube studies show that CD19L-sTRAIL killed over 99% of the leukemia cells, but mouse studies had the same results, and without side effects! When comparing this treatment in mice to chemotherapy and radiation, this new treatment was superior to both. This is exciting news, and hopefully future studies will lead to human trials and a much better survival rate of ALL! Read more about this exciting research here.

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