Linking metabolism and epigenetics in Acute Myeloid Leukaemia

Dr Cristina Pina, University of Cambridge and John Goldman Fellow 2017

Acute myeloid leukaemia (AML) has a 5-year survival of just 30% and new treatments are urgently required. Leukaemia cells process (metabolise) the nutrients they require differently to normal cells and there is substantial interest in finding treatments that will target the way leukaemia cells break down and utilize their nutrients.  

Some products (metabolites) resulting from the nutrient breakdown are known to be involved in modifying proteins that bind DNA which has the ultimate effect of controlling whether genes are switched on or off. 

Dr Pina has recently studied AML cells and identified two genes of interest, MAT2A and KAT2A. These two genes may be involved in the use of metabolites and subsequently how leukaemia –related genes are switched on and off. Dr Pina plans to remove the MAT2A gene from patient AML cells and study the effect. 

The project aims to identify weaknesses in leukaemia cell metabolism that could lead to potential treatments for AML.