Acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL) is the most common type of childhood cancer, and T-ALL represents 20 % of those, with a peak at 2-5 years of age. Although this neoplastic disorder originates from the thymus, it spreads throughout the whole body and is fatal rapidly without therapy. Current treatments of T-ALL achieve good survival rates of 90% in children but with severe side effects that alter their quality of life in the long term. Furthermore, about 50% of adolescents and 60% of adults succumb to T-ALL. In contrast, acute myeloblastic leukemia is more frequent in adults with a poor long-term survival rate, despite intensive high dose chemotherapy.
Prof. Hoang’s team previously showed that leukemic stem cells, that are spared by current treatment, actually depend on their interactions with a niche for survival, revealing a vulnerability that will be exploited to develop novel drug-like compounds preventing this critical interaction. The project involves a multidisciplinary team of researchers operating from bench to bedside at three universities: IRIC-Université de Montréal, MUHC and Sherbrooke University and at CHU Sainte-Justine.