Memphis, Tenn. – May 5, 2022
“Together, we’ve found a novel mutation in a cell signaling pathway, that’s not mutated in any other form of cancer, said Charles Mullighan, MD, MBBS, St. Jude Pathology.
Cancer has many different causes. One common feature is uncontrolled cell growth. Scientists at St. Jude and the Munich Leukemia Laboratory found a new cause of the uncontrolled growth of natural killer (NK) cells. NK cells are a type of immune cell that normally kills infected or tumor cells.
The team looked at a poorly understood form of chronic leukemia. The leukemia is chronic lymphoproliferative disorder of natural killer cells (CLPD-NK). In this disease, NK cells become cancerous. But scientists did not know how that happens.
The researchers showed that a mutated gene called CCL22 attracts immune cells more potently than normal CCL22. These immune cells then signal NK cells to multiply, resulting in cancer.
The results led the scientists to create a new model of cancer development.
“Together, we’ve found a novel mutation in a cell signaling pathway, that’s not mutated in any other form of cancer, said Charles Mullighan, MD, MBBS, Pathology.
“When we found the first mutations in CCL22 in our whole genome sequencing data set we felt that this could be the beginning of a new chapter for CLPD-NK patients,” said co-corresponding author Torsten Haferlach, MD, PhD, of Munich Leukemia Laboratory. “This never would have been possible without such outstanding and multidisciplinary team of dedicated scientists at St Jude.”
The scientists hope this work will serve as a proof-of-principle for how other cancers may form.
Nature Genetics published this work.
Visit the St. Jude newsroom to read our latest news, find media relations contacts and explore resources for journalists and bloggers.
At St. Jude, science matters. From molecular breakthroughs to innovative therapies, our research discovers the cures of tomorrow, and saves children’s lives today.
Browse the latest peer-reviewed articles from St. Jude investigators and clinicians, as well as breaking news, in-depth features and our Scientific Report.
St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital is leading the way the world understands, treats and defeats childhood cancer and other life-threatening diseases.
At St. Jude, we dream big, and build our research programs to match. Explore just a few of the pioneering initiatives that make St. Jude different.
St. Jude is a world-class research hospital seeking a diverse staff of faculty, researchers, clinicians, fundraisers and more. Find a job and help save lives.
St. Jude offers world-class scientific and clinical training experiences for fellows, students and other trainees. We also share knowledge through international outreach.
Finding cures. Saving children. ®
Sign up for Email or Text Updates
© Copyright 2022. St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, a not-for-profit, section 501(c)(3).
If you speak another language, assistance services, free of charge, are available to you. Call 1-866-278-5833 (TTY: 1-901-595-1040)
Memphis, Tenn. – May 5, 2022