Titles + affiliations
Assistant Professor, Department of Chemical & Biomolecular Engineering
Johns Hopkins University
Identify Metabolic Vulnerabilities in Leukemic Stem Cells
One of the main challenges in curing acute myeloid leukemia (AML) is the recurrence of disease, which occurs in about 50% of patients. A 5-year survival rate after the recurrence is less than 20%. It is now widely accepted that a small, distinctive population of malignant cells, called leukemic stem cells (LSCs), is responsible for disease relapse and drug resistance. Therefore, there has been a significant interest in identifying and developing therapeutic methods targeting LSCs. Recently, multiple groups have started investigating the metabolic vulnerabilities of LSCs, as they have been shown to exhibit unique metabolic phenotypes. Still, our research progress has been limited, mainly due to a lack of experimental tools that model the tumor metabolic environment. In this Proposal, my lab aims to address this problem by developing a powerful bioreactor system and identifying the unique metabolic characteristics of LSCs. Specifically, we will design a multi-well plate format bioreactor that does not require any complicated and expensive components while providing in vitro experimental conditions that mimic the leukemic metabolic environment. With this innovative model system, we will investigate the mitochondrial metabolism of leukemic cells and identify which pathways are essential for LSCs. Our engineering platform and biological findings would help us find a more effective treatment for this devastating disease.
With the Leukemia Research Foundation grant, I was able to test my high-risk hypotheses, design and optimize new assays, validate numerous reagents, and train my lab members. The research outcomes from this grant will become a cornerstone for my future blood cancer research and facilitate my lab’s collaborations with other research groups in this field. We feel truly grateful to receive the funding from the Leukemia Research Foundation as our leukemia research program is launched.
Leukemia Research Foundation grant
$100K awarded in 2021
Acute myeloid leukemia (AML)
Cancer cell biology (leukemia stem cells)