Finalist, 4th Annual VCU 3MT® Competition, held on October 18-19, 2018.https://scholarscompass.vcu.edu/threemt/7/
1. Working in a hematology clinic in Pakistan, I will never forget a family’s anguish as a suckling 9-month-old baby was removed from the breast of her mother for a bone marrow biopsy.
A week later, the mother fainted in the arms of her husband as the couple was told that their child suffers from the potentially fatal Acute Myeloid Leukemia.
2. AML is a cancer of the bone marrow, which knows no bounds – it affects all age groups and spans all geographic areas.
3. As a hematology resident, I was told that the best way to recognize this cancer on a bone marrow specimen is to remember that these cells look ‘angry’.
Here you see these cells losing all shape and form, when compared to normal, beautiful-bone marrow cells.
4. This cancer not only looks angry, it also behaves angry, with dismal survival rates. Moreover, this cancer is far from being uncommon.
There is thus a clear need for research into new modalities of therapy that can improve this current survival rate.
5. In our lab, we have shown that a certain protein called CHD4 when eliminated from cells, results in markedly reduced cancer colonies on soft agar.
However, this treatment we know cannot be applied to humans because this also kills the normal cells.
So in our lab, our aim is to find proteins which interact with CHD4, the elimination of which can produce the same effect as CHD4 does.
In our preliminary experiments, we have shown that there are two other proteins called MBD2 and MBD3, the elimination of which produces almost the same effect as CHD4 does without reducing cell viability.
6. The child that I mentioned earlier unfortunately could not survive treatment. But I do hope that in the future no other child would have to meet the same fate at the hands of ‘Angry AML’.