Project: Single-Cell Characterization of Phenotype and STAT Signaling in BCP ALL
Sole Benefactor: Love Your Melon
Although cure rates for childhood leukemia have improved dramatically in recent decades, some forms of leukemia remain difficult to treat, with high relapse rates and poor response to therapy. One of these forms, B-cell precursor acute lymphoblastic leukemia (BCP ALL) is an important disease since it accounts for the most deaths in children with cancer, mostly due to relapsed disease.
Kara Davis, DO, performs research at Stanford University on protein expression in BCP ALL. Dr. Davis’s work examines the phenotypes of B-cells, focusing on the difference between normal, healthy B-cells and those involved in the development of BCP ALL. Dr. Davis has discovered that BCP ALL cells use signaling that allow them to survive and resist treatment. During a normal cell’s development, there is often a period of time where cells are in a kind of “survival mode.” At this time, these cells are especially resilient. Dr. Davis hypothesizes that in BCP ALL, the cancerous B-cells also demonstrate “survival mode,” which allows them to be more resistant to treatment, increasing the chance of relapse.
Her work uncovers the differentiation (maturation) of B-cells from a healthy state to cancerous, to show how we can “organize” and better identify the differences within tumors and how they respond to treatment. She hopes to get a deeper understanding of how cancerous B-cells develop and what genetic “signaling pathways” are present that might be targetable for this disease. Her hope is that identifying these targets will enable doctors to apply new work on targeted treatments to BCP ALL.