Researchers at the University of Virginia School of Medicine have discovered a specific type of immune cell in the bone marrow of mice responsible for an aggressive, poorly understood form of leukemia.
The type of leukemia examined in the study proved particularly hardy and resourceful. After the cancer killed a mouse with the responsible mutation, the researchers placed the leukemic cells in a lab dish, where they continued to survive and even thrive.
“People have been trying to grow leukemia cells in culture, even from patients, and they require other factors to survive. But not these,” said UVA researcher Maria Luisa S. Sequeira-Lopez, MD. Her co-researcher, Ariel Gomez, MD, marveled at the cells’ ability to tolerate even the least hospitable conditions. “These are extremely aggressive in that they have developed a system to grow and survive no matter what,” he said. “They have immortalized themselves.”
Image: Depiction of this model of lymphoblastic leukaemia.