Curing A.L.L. with GSK-J4 (Not Chemo)

A compound called GSK-J4 can kill one of the most aggressive forms of A.L.L. (acute lymphoblastic leukemia) in both children and adults.

Ottawa Hospital researchers at the University of Ottawa published their discoveries in Genes and Development on March 1, 2016. Dr. Marjorie Brand led the research focused on a type of T-ALL cancer called TAL-1.

The current treatment for TAL-1 is chemotherapy with horrible side effects.  The research is being done in hopes that chemo can be replaced with a drug with less harmful side effects–the key is GSK-J4 and UTX.

The research team used human cancer cells in mice, which showed that the GSK-J4 compound can kill the leukemia with no short-term side effects.  The discovery is that TAL-1 needs the enzyme called UTX to fuel cancer production.  When Dr. Brand’s team used the GSK-J4 compound on the mice, it completely stopped the growth of the TAL-1 subtype cancer cells.

After three weeks of testing, the team concluded that A.L.L. cancer cells in their bone marrow had decreased by 80 percent. (!!!)  There were also no noticeable short-term side effects or any other harm to organs.

Dr. Brand said, “learning how a disease works at a molecular level needs to happen before any kind of successful drug can be developed.”  The next steps are to take their concept to pre-clinical studies to look at the effects of increased doses and the long-term effects of the compound.

Research associate Dr. Carmen Palii said, “while our study is a proof of concept, these promising results might one day lead to a similar targeted treatment for humans.”

Any step, big or small, towards curing cancer is a step to be celebrated.


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Thanks to for originally reporting this story.

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