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The discovery of an aberrantly expressed gene by a team of MRC WIMM researchers could lead to curative treatments for currently incurable childhood leukemias.

Abstract spray painting to represent identification of the right molecular target in a complex leukemia (credit: Adi Sukumaran) © Image credit: Adi Sukumaran

Mutations in the Mixed Lineage Leukemia (MLL) gene cause very poor prognosis leukemias in babies and children and remain an unmet need for clinical intervention. It has been very difficult to develop drugs targeting proteins associated with the MLL gene mutation. A potential avenue is to target the products of the overexpressed genes themselves. A team of researchers including Professors Anindita Roy and Thomas Milne from the MRC WIMM, have stumbled across the PROM1 gene, discovering a potential Achilles’ heel for curing this dreadful leukaemia with targeted treatments, including immunotherapy. Read the full story on the Nature blog about the paper, recently published in Leukemia.