Unleashing the Potential of Stem Cells and Precision Medicine
Imagine being a perfectly healthy young woman who suddenly finds herself out of breath climbing the stairs or caring for her children. These symptoms are shared by otherwise healthy women who are diagnosed with a disease known as lymphangioleiomyomatosis (LAM). LAM is a rare but lethal lung cancer that attacks only women, usually in the prime of their lives.
Dr. Bill Stanford, Canada Research Chair in Integrative Stem Cell Biology, learned about LAM from a patient and her physician. They enlisted him to help overcome the greatest hurdle in LAM research: the inability to grow LAM cells outside the body. Since then, not only has Stanford developed methods to grow LAM cells in a dish, he is now also performing drug screens to identify novel treatments that can target LAM cells while sparing normal lung cells. This work is enabling precision medicine for LAM patients. (Precision medicine involves tailoring medical treatments to patients’ individual characteristics.)
Stanford and his research team have also set their sights on other killers, including acute myeloid leukemia (AML), the most common and deadly blood cancer. Patients with AML have been treated the same way for nearly four decades, with mixed results. Stanford and his team have discovered a molecular cause for why nearly half of AML patients do not respond to treatment. By understanding why these patients are resistant to chemotherapy, they have identified an experimental drug that can overcome chemotherapy resistance.
By teaming up with clinicians, Stanford is translating his discoveries into cures for patients.