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New plasma-based method found to treat refractory blood cancer
  • By Lee Han-soo
  • Published 2020.06.03 16:29
  • Updated 2020.06.04 15:55
  • comments 0

A new method has been found to treat chronic myelogenous leukemia, a type of intractable blood cancer.

Professor Kim Chul-ho

Professor Kim Chul-ho and his team at Ajou University Medical Center said Tuesday that they have confirmed anew the possibility that a new plasma-based method would treat chronic myelogenous leukemia.

“Cancer treatment is the area that draws the greatest attention among the clinical application of plasma since it works specifically on cancer tissue and has few side effects,” the team said. “The plasma used in this study is not in the state of solids, liquids, and gases, but the fourth state of matter, where the atomic nuclei and electrons are separated and uniformly present by heating the gas to a higher temperature.”

As a result of utilizing the plasma-activated water, the research team discovered that the plasma inhibits the activity of organelles and lysosomes in various leukemia cells, while effectively reducing mammalian target of rapamycin (mTOR) protein, which determines cell cycle progression and growth, and induces cell death.

“We confirmed that plasma promotes the expression of RNF126 protein, whose expression is suppressed in various leukemia cells, thereby inducing the ubiquitination of the mTOR protein and causing effective degradation,” the team said. “As activation of the mTOR pathway seen in leukemia patients is accompanied by drug resistance and poor prognosis, there have been many studies for mTOR inhibitors to resolve this issue.”

However, efforts are still being made to find the most suitable inhibitor that exhibits significant efficacy by overcoming drug resistance and minimal toxicity, the team added.

In this regard, the team stressed that its plasma is significant as it induced effective protein breakdown of mTOR in leukemia cells while showing no adverse side effects such as acute toxicity or weight loss in a mouse model.

“This study is meaningful because it raised the expectation for treating refractory blood cancer by offering a new treatment method using plasma,” Professor Kim said.

Because of the merit of reacting only to the cancer tissues possessed by plasma and having few side effects, the team expects that the possibility of using plasma-based medical devices in patients with leukemia chemotherapy and research on combination therapy with existing targeted anticancer drugs will increase in the future,

The journal Cells published the results of the study in March with the title of “Non-Thermal Plasma Induces Antileukemic Effect Through mTOR Ubiquitination.”


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