Childhood Cancer

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Novel Therapy of Heterogeneous B-cell Acute Lymphocytic Leukemia by Targeting Convergent Oncogenic Mediators STATs

University of Alberta
Hasan Uludag, PhD
Grant Type: 
Innovation Grants
Year Awarded: 
Type of Childhood Cancer: 
Leukemia, Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia (ALL)
Project Description: 

The outcomes of this project confirmed the therapeutic potential of siRNA in combination with designer nanoparticles from lipopolymers as a delivery system. The new therapy we proposed, based on molecular targeting of cancer driving STAT5 gene, has shown promising results in cell models of acute lymphocytic leukemia (ALL). We see similarly successful results in a subset of patient-derived ALL samples as well, but the response was not uniformly positive in all patient samples. Using an animal model with locally grown ALL tumors, we could obtain successful results in slowing the growth of ALL tumors in a mouse xenograft model. We are keen to better understand the difference between the responders and the non-responders among patient samples and extend this new therapeutic approach to drug-resistant ALL samples.

Project Goal

We propose that optimal way to achieve this is by using silencer molecules that are able to eradicate these central regulators from the cells. To realize this goal, we will develop and test nanoparticles that can deliver silencer molecules specifically to the cancer cells causing B-ALL in circulation. We plan to design the nanoparticles with the right antibodies to ‘seek’ the cancer cells; once bound and internalized by the cancer cells, the nanoparticles will release the silencer molecules, eradicating the central mediators of cancer growth and eventually the cancer cells. Our studies will create a therapeutic intervention that has the potential to eradicate leukemic cells that arise from different types of genetic abnormalities. Our therapy will have the potential to improve the effectiveness of treatment in high-risk B-ALL patients irrespective of genetic abnormality, preventing relapse and death.

Project Update 2020

We are investigating the use of nanoparticles for siRNA delivery that are formed by using lipid-modified cationic polymers. By mixing the siRNA with such polymers, we formed ~100 nm nanoparticles that were suitable for uptake in ALL cell lines and primary patient-derived cell samples. Initial studies identified the optimal lipid-substituted polymers that gave best siRNA delivery to ALL cell lines SUP-B15 and RS4;11. STAT5A gene expression was downregulated in ALL cell lines using the polymeric delivery systems, which consequently reduced cell growth and inhibited the formation of colonies in ALL cells. With regard to the ALL primary cells obtained from patients, siRNA-mediated STAT5A gene silencing was observed in four out of eight patient cells using our leading polymeric delivery system, accompanied by the significant reduction in colony formation in three out of eight patients with the same delivery system. In both BCR-ABL positive and negative groups, three out of five patients demonstrated marked inhibition in cell growth using the STAT-5 siRNA nanoparticles. Three patient samples (out of 10) did not show any positive results with our delivery systems. Differential therapeutic responses to siRNA therapy observed in different patients could result from variable genetic profiles and patient-to-patient variability in delivery. The outcomes of this study confirmed the therapeutic potential of siRNA in combination with designer nanoparticles from lipopolymers as a delivery system.

Co-funded by: 
Cure4Cam Childhood Cancer Foundation