School of Medicine team receives $1.7 million grant to study possible treatment for leukemia

Researchers are examining whether a drug used to treat Type 2 diabetes can prevent blood cancer from spreading.

Sept. 17, 2020

Xunlei Kang, PhD, Medicine

Xunlei Kang, PhD,

The National Institutes of Health has awarded Xunlei Kang, an assistant professor at the University of Missouri School of Medicine, a $1.7 million grant to study whether a drug used to treat Type 2 diabetes can prevent acute myeloid leukemia (AML) from spreading throughout the body.

AML accounts for more than 40% of leukemia-related deaths in the U.S., and most people with the disease die within a few years of diagnosis. Despite the numbers, Kang said there has not been progress in treatment in 40 years because targeting the diseased cells is difficult.

Kang and his team will use a Type 2 diabetes drug to try and delay — or even reverse — AML by targeting only the  diseased myeloid stem cells and restraining them inside the bone marrow, which would stop them from entering the bloodstream and invading lymph nodes and other organs.

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