Myelodysplastic syndromes (MDS) are precancerous blood conditions that frequently progress to acute myeloid leukemia (AML). MDS and AML are both characterized by the presence of blast cells (defective blood-forming stem cells), with higher levels present in AML. Both conditions also originate from clones (i.e., single defective stem cells). In a study published online on December 3 in Nature Medicine, Amit K. Verma, M.B.B.S., and Ulrich Steidl M.D., Ph.D., examined how stem cells evolve into MDS and AML. Jiahao Chen, Ph.D., a researcher in Dr. Steidl’s laboratory, used single-cell sequencing to compare the MDS and AML stem cells of seven patients whose MDS had progressed to AML. The study revealed that stem cell subclones not detectable in MDS blasts became dominant upon progression to AML. These results suggest that the current bulk-cell approach to analyzing cancer-related stem cells may overlook pre-existing rare aberrant stem cells that drive disease progression and the transformation of MDS to AML. Dr. Verma is professor of medicine and of developmental and molecular biology at Einstein and attending physician in oncology at Montefiore Einstein Center for Cancer Care. Dr. Steidl is the Diane and Arthur B. Belfer Faculty Scholar in Cancer Research, director of the Stem Cell Isolation and Xenotransplantation Facility and a professor of cell biology and of medicine at Einstein and associate chair for translational research in oncology at Montefiore.
Posted on: Monday, December 10, 2018