Developing targeted therapies for MDS
Myelodysplastic syndrome (MDS) is still incurable, unless the person undergoes a bone marrow transplant. But to undergo this grueling procedure, the person needs to be fit and well, so it’s not usually an option as MDS mainly affects frailer and older people. So there is a need to find kinder and better treatments for MDS.
Professor Sten Eirik Jacobsen and his team have previously found that there is a tiny population of cancer cells within MDS called ‘cancer stem cells’. Although they are only found in small numbers, these cancer stem cells can avoid being killed by current treatments, which means the disease can return.
These cancer stem cells can also acquire new genetic faults over time, making them fitter and stronger so they make the MDS get worse.
Professor Jacobsen and his team at the University of Oxford are looking at cancer stem cell on an individual basis. They will identify the proteins that are key to cancer stem cell survival. They aim to use this information to develop better and more targeted treatments for MDS.