The Society's 2014 ANNUAL APPEAL
Leukemia is a group of cancers that originate in white blood cells called leukocytes. These cells form in the bone marrow—the soft, spongy inner portion of certain bones.
Healthy bone marrow contains young cells that normally mature into blood cells, including platelets, red blood cells, and white blood cells. White blood cells normally help the body fight infection. However, in leukemia, changes occur in young white blood cells that prevent them from maturing properly. These abnormal white blood cells grow and multiply uncontrollably, flooding the body’s organs and interfering with organ function. They also prevent normal blood cells from forming.
Advances at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center
New approaches in immunotherapy are being tested at MSK that
have produced remarkable early successes. Also, a number of MSK labs have pioneered the development of new therapies that reactivate broken epigenetic mechanisms, which essentially rehabilitates the cell’s ability to mature and thus rid the body of leukemia cells.
Recent research breakthroughs have taught us that leukemia cells
expand uncontrollably because they are blocked in their ability to mature,
leading to the expansion of immature white blood cells. MSK scientists have discovered this block in maturation is a result of a cellular process called epigenetics. Epigenetic mechanisms control which genes in a cell can be turned on or off. This control of gene activity is necessary for white blood cells and many other cell types to develop into fully differentiated, mature cells. Given that many cancers are a result of blocked cellular development, this work has implications for patients well beyond those with leukemia.
How You Can Help
Memorial Sloan Kettering has a long and distinguished history in
leukemia diagnosis and treatment with a vibrant research program that holds great promise for continued advances. Our vision is to ensure that patients with leukemia have access to the most innovative and potentially impactful therapies. With your support, MSK can continue to pioneer groundbreaking clinical trials, establishing better methods.
Please support the 2014 Annual Appeal and build on MSK’s long tradition of excellence in cancer care. Click here to make an online donation.
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