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New pharmacological study for leukaemia patients

Julia Kirchheiner, pharmacologist at Ulm University, is examining why some leukaemia patients do not respond to cytarabin treatment. Although many AML (acute myeloid leukaemia) sufferers have already been treated with cytarabin, the substance is nevertheless ineffective in many people.

Kirchheiner’s team is now hoping to identify the genetic causes for cytarabin being taken up differently by the blood cells. This would then enable physicians to identify the factors that come together to determine how a patient responds to cytarabin treatment.

Why a drug does not exert its action

Prof. Dr. Julia Kirchheiner (Photo: University Hospital Ulm)
Everyone possesses congenital factors that determine the degradation or the transport of drugs. Investigations have shown that the cells’ resistance to cytarabin might result from the fact that the drug cannot be actively transported into the cell, which in turn results from the reduced expression of cytarabin transporters (ENT1).

The Ulm researchers are now looking for congenital factors that prevent the effective transport of drugs by ENT1 and hence prevent cytarabin from being transported into both healthy and cancer cells. Their research involves functional transport measurements with radioactively labelled cytarabin on lymphocytes from 100 healthy blood donors. This will provide the researchers with insights into the individual differences in the active uptake of cytarabin into the cell. Subsequently, the researchers will carry out genetic examinations in order to identify inherited variants that together determine the speed of cytarabin transport into the cell.

Kirchheiner, who is an extraordinary member of the Drug Commission of the German Medical Association, is a professor for clinical pharmacology at the Institute of Naturopathy and Clinical Pharmacology at Ulm University. The German José Carreras Leukaemia Foundation is providing funds of 30,000 euros to Kirchheiner’s project.

Website address: https://www.gesundheitsindustrie-bw.de/en/article/press-release/new-pharmacological-study-for-leukaemia-patients