Upstate News

June 18, 2009
Doretta Royer 315 464-4833

Upstate Medical receives $1.96M grant from NIH to study blood cancers

SYRACUSE, N.Y. — Researchers at Upstate Medical University have been awarded a $1.96 million grant from the National Institutes of Health to better understand the cause and progression of a closely related group of blood cancers known as myeloproliferative disorders (MPDs) using a genetically modified mice. Findings from the study may lead to new and more effective therapies to treat the conditions.

M. Golam Mohi, Ph.D., assistant professor of pharmacology at Upstate, serves as the principal investigator for this five-year study, which is funded by the NIH’s the National Heart Lung and Blood Institute.

According to Mohi, classic MPDs include Polycythemia Vera (PV), Essential Thrombocythemia (ET), primary myelofibrosis (PMF) and Chronic Myelogenous Leukemia (CML).

“MPDs are caused when bone marrow cells that produce blood cells develop and function abnormally, resulting in the excessive production of one or more of blood cell types,” says Mohi. “The outcome makes an individual more susceptible to a host of problems, including thrombosis and/or hemorrhage, anemia, bone marrow fibrosis or acute leukemia.”

Mohi’s laboratory will specifically investigate how a mutation in gene JAK2 causes three of the four disorders.

“The mutation in JAK2, known as V6717F, was discovered in 2005 in groups of patients who had these three classic cases of MPD,” said Mohi. “However it is still unclear as to how this single mutation can give rise to three different MPDs that have such distinct clinical features. To develop effective therapies, we first need to understand the role of this mutation in the pathogenesis of MPDs.”

Mohi’s laboratory has created a genetically modified mouse model in which suspect gene is induced after birth. When this mutation is induced, the mouse displays the same features as those found in human disease.

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