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Studying the interaction between bone and leukaemia cells to improve treatment outcomes in childhood leukaemia

Laurence Cheung
Dr Laurence Cheung, Telethon Kids Institute, Perth
Funding period: 2020-2022.

Many children diagnosed with leukaemia suffer bone pain. Skeletal defects and reduced bone formation are also commonly observed, suggesting leukaemia cells can alter the surrounding bone cells and possibly favour leukaemia development in the bone marrow.

It is well documented that the immediate environment (neighbouring cells) of cancer cells influences many stages of cancer progression. We have established preclinical models that reproduce the changes in the bones of children with leukaemia.

Our research will study the interaction between bone cells and leukaemia cells, and evaluate if restoration of a healthy bone marrow environment improves treatment outcomes. A combined approach that targets both cancer cells and neighbouring cells has the potential to translate into a highly effective strategy, to treat the children diagnosed with leukaemia.