Childhood Cancer

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Physical Properties of Drug-Resistant Leukemia Cells

Children's Hospital Los Angeles
Yong-mi Kim, MD/PhD
Grant Type: 
Innovation Grants
Year Awarded: 
Type of Childhood Cancer: 
Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia (ALL)
Project Description: 

Drug resistance remains a major issue in the successful treatment of acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL). Physical changes have been described mostly in solid tumors, as aggressive tumors are softer than less aggressive ones. This characteristic allows them to spread in the patient’s body. In this application, we propose to analyze their physical properties, an unstudied aspect of drug-resistant leukemia cells. Thus far, we have discovered that drug-resistant leukemia cells have greater deformability than other leukemia cells that respond to chemotherapy. 

Project Goal
In this project, we seek to measure the elasticity of drug-resistant leukemia cells and also break the increased deformability with a novel therapy targeting the structures that impact elasticity. Our efforts will potentially lay the groundwork for a new direction of research, diagnosis and therapy in the field of hematology and drug resistance.

Project Update - June 2020
We hypothesized that patient-derived, primary DR ALL cells have greater elasticity than drug-sensitive ALL cells. We have shown that decreased deformability of ALL cells can be achieved only upon blocking a special adhesion molecule, called integrin CD49f, which is a novel anchor molecule that we are evaluating in leukemia.



Co-funded by: 
Cure4Cam Childhood Cancer Foundation