Childhood Cancer

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Epigenetic regulation of genomic instability and its therapeutic implications in T-cell acute lymphoblastic leukemia

Dana-Farber Cancer Institute
Birgit Knoechel, MD/PhD
Grant Type: 
Innovation Grants
Year Awarded: 
Type of Childhood Cancer: 
Leukemia, Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia (ALL)
Project Description: 

Despite great progress in treating cancer in children, we are still not able to cure all patients, especially those who relapse or do not respond to standard therapy. In T-cell acute lymphoblastic leukemia (T-ALL), children have poor outcomes because of resistance to existing therapies. Therefore, there is an urgent need to identify new treatment strategies. Resistance is often due to outgrowth of cells with changes in their DNA (through genetic alterations) or due to ways of the leukemia cells to adapt epigenetically. The term "epigenetics" refers to the environment in the nucleus that is surrounding the DNA in cells and can determine which genes are turned "on" or "off". Although many tumors have epigenetic alterations, their relevance is not well understood.

Project Goal

This project aims to understand epigenetic changes and their consequences in cancer. We propose to investigate how epigenetic and genetic alterations cause resistance, and how the interaction of epigenetic and genetic regulation can be therapeutically exploited. This research holds great promise for revealing new information about the biology of T-ALL and has great potential to bring effective new therapies to patients with this type of blood cancer.