Kane Ransom has only one wish – to be cancer free. The seven-year-old is almost halfway through his 118-week chemotherapy regimen for his second flare-up of acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL). Now, research done by scientists at Children’s Cancer Institute, Sydney, might make his wish come true.
One of the most successful treatments for ALL involves the use of glucocorticoids. These are a class of corticosteroids, artificial hormones very similar to the ones naturally produced by our own bodies, which control several key functions. In about 15% of cases, treatment fails as the disease becomes resistant.
Kane was first diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia and the age of three. After the first round of therapy, the disease went into remission and he was cancer free for 18 months. Unfortunately, things didn’t last long and the leukemia came back.
During his first Christmas in hospital, his bone density was so low that his family was even allowed to hug him. Even so, everyone around the little boy, including himself, is still optimistic and looking towards the future with hope.
The discovery made by Dr. Duohui Jing and Professor Richard Lock might just be what Kane needs. By examining samples from patients with both the glucocorticoid-sensitive and resistant forms of ALL, they noticed an abnormal folding of DNA structure in cells that hides the glucocorticoids’ targets on cancer cells.
Using a drug that exposed the hidden DNA regions, while combined with glucocorticoids in animal models representing resistant patents, the team found significant improvements in response rates.
For Kane and countless others suffering from ALL, a new treatment path seems to have opened. Now, only time will tell.