Experimental drug boosts blood system’s recovery after chemo/radiation

August 21, 2019

Chemotherapy and radiation are known to suppress the activity of blood stem cells, which gives rise to all of the body’s blood and immune cells. Although it typically takes several weeks or months for the blood and immune systems to recover after exposure to radiation, scientists from the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) have developed a drug that speeds up the regeneration of mouse and human blood stem cells.

For the preliminary trial, Dr. John Chute, a physician at UCLA, collaborated with Michael Jung, the UC Presidential Chair in Medicinal Chemistry and UCLA’s distinguished professor of chemistry and biochemistry, to design and test a specific cohort of drugs on human and mouse blood stem cells – essentially, a new PTP-sigma inhibitor.

The PTP-sigma protein was previously found to control the regeneration of neurons and blood stem cells -in mice with a PTP-sigma gene deficiency, blood stem cells regenerated faster after they were suppressed by radiation. However,while PTP-sigma belongs to a group of proteins which are notoriously hard to block, nearly all of the mice treated with the modified PTP-sigma inhibitor survived, while more than half of those that did not receive it died within three weeks. Apparently, the mice that were not subject to the successful treatment had dangerously low levels of white blood cells and neutrophils, the cells that fight bacteria and aid recovery.

Currently, the newfound knowledge is guiding investigations into the mechanisms through which inhibiting PTP-sigma promotes the regeneration of blood stem cells, for safe and effective use in humans undergoing cancer treatment.

As the potency of the PTP-sigma compound in animal models was reliably high, Chute said human applications might begin sooner than expected – “It accelerated the recovery of important components of the blood system necessary for survival. If found to be safe in humans, it could lessen infections and allow people to be discharged from the hospital earlier.”


Category: Features, Pharmaceuticals

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