Mutated stem cells known as leukemia stem cells (LSCs) initiate and fuel the development of acute myeloid leukemia (AML), an aggressive and usually fatal blood cancer. Curing AML requires eliminating LSCs. In a paper published online on January 2 in Nature Communications, Xingxing Zang, Ph.D., Hao Wang, Roberto Alejandro Sica, M.D., Gurbakhash Kaur, M.D., and colleagues describe a promising new strategy for treating and possibly curing AML by targeting LSCs. The researchers discovered that TMIGD2, a cell-surface receptor discovered previously by Dr. Zang’s lab, is present in large numbers on human LSCs and is needed for LSCs to self-renew and for AML to develop and progress. In experiments involving patient-derived AML tissue transplanted into mice, treating the mice with monoclonal antibodies made against TMIGD2 dramatically suppressed LSC replication and reduced the animals’ AML burden. Importantly—since LSCs are defective hematopoietic (blood-forming) stem cells—the antibody treatment did not interfere with normal blood-cell production in the animals. The study’s authors recommend moving their monoclonal antibody treatment into AML clinical trials, either as a single treatment or combined with other therapies.
Dr. Zang is professor of microbiology & immunology, of oncology, of medicine, and of urology, and the Louis Goldstein Swan Chair in Cancer Research at Einstein, and a member of the National Cancer Institute–designated Montefiore Einstein Comprehensive Cancer Center. Hao Wang was a Ph.D. student in Dr. Zang’s lab. Dr. Sica is an assistant professor of oncology and of medicine at Einstein, a member of the National Cancer Institute–designated Montefiore Einstein Comprehensive Cancer Center, and attending physician at Montefiore. Dr. Kaur was a hematology/oncology fellow at Montefiore. Einstein faculty members Britta Will, Ph.D., Deyou Zheng, Ph.D., and David Fooksman, Ph.D., are also co-authors of this paper.
Einstein has licensed Intellectual Property (IP), including the anti-TMIGD2 monoclonal antibody described in the Nature Communications paper, to NextPoint Therapeutics, a clinical stage biotech company in Cambridge, MA. Dr. Zang is the scientific co-founder of NextPoint.
Posted on: Tuesday, January 02, 2024