Investigating promoter hypermethylation in the biology of MLL-rearranged leukemia, and as a novel target for therapy
While the overall cure rate for childhood leukemia is about 80%, children with leukemias that carry mutations in a gene called “MLL” have a much worse prognosis. We have recently discovered that MLL leukemias have a unique tendency to turn off, or “silence”, many of their genes through a mechanism known as “hypermethylation”, and that this tendency may explain why the MLL leukemias do not respond well to current treatments. There are new drugs that can reverse this process of hypermethylation, and “re-express” the abnormally silenced genes. Dr. Brown’s lab would like to find out whether these drugs will improve the cure rate for the children with MLL leukemias. The experiments being performed with the support of Gabrielle’s Angel Foundation will answer this important question, and will hopefully lead to new, more effective treatments and the translation of our work into more cures for children with cancer.