Leukaemia Foundation

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Dr Cedric Tremblay

Grant-in-aid

Chief investigator:  Dr Cedric Tremblay
Institute:                   Australian Centre for Blood Diseases, Monash
   University
Project title:             Finding new and more efficient treatments for T-cell
                           acute lymphoblastic leukaemia
Disease focus:         Acute lymphoblastic leukaemia (ALL)
Funding:                   $100,000
Funding period:       2014

Project summary 

Dr Cedric Tremblay is investigating possible new treatments for a type of acute lymphoblastic leukaemia (ALL) which responds poorly to treatment.

Known as T-ALL, this type of leukaemia is characterised by mutations to genes controlling the production of immature T-cells (a type of immune cell). Dr Tremblay and his team have shown that these mutations lead to the activation of a transcription factor, STAT5, associated with poor outcome for T-ALL patients.

Dr Tremblay said: “From our research, we suspect that STAT5 activation is important to ‘immature T-cell progenitor’ acute lymphoblastic leukaemia development”.

“To understand the importance of STAT5 in this blood cancer, we’re developing a laboratory model to identify all the genes and signalling pathways involved in activating the protein.”

Dr Tremblay’s research group already has found that mutations of the genes controlling the Interleukin-7 (IL-7) signalling pathways result in the activation of STAT5 in T-ALL, but they suspect there are others.

In parallel, to this line of investigation, the team also is blocking the production of STAT5 via the IL-7 signalling pathways. IL-7 is critical to the immune system development and it appears the pathway could be essential to the progression of T-ALL.

The group is testing a new class of anti-cancer drugs that specifically target IL-7. If the results are promising, Dr Tremblay hopes to trial the drugs in combination with chemotherapy, in relapsed T-ALL with an immature phenotype.