Acute myeloid leukemia is an aggressive blood cancer that is extremely difficult to treat because it is spread by rare leukemic stem cells that can evade most current therapies. As a result, this cancer has a high fatality rate. As Canada Research Chair in Myeloid Cancers, Dr. Aly Karsan is trying to understand how these cells resist therapy and figure out how to target them using new treatments.
He and his research team are using cutting-edge genomic, epigenomic and functional techniques to examine single blood cancer cells. Because each patient’s acute myeloid leukemia harbours multiple different leukemic stem cells, Karsan and his team are looking for common pathways in different types of leukemic stem cells that could be used to target the disease. Ultimately, they hope to provide the knowledge needed to develop new therapies for patients who do not respond to standard treatments.