Leukemia contributes to premature aging in healthy bone marrow cells – according to new studies by the University of East Anglia.
Today's findings published in the journal Blood shows that whole bone marrow cells were in the age of overgrown with cancer cells.
It is well known that aging contributes to the development of cancer. But this is the first time that it has been proven that the opposite is true.
It is important that outdated bone marrow cells accelerated the development and development of leukemia – creating a vicious circle that promotes the disease.
The study was led by Dr. Stuart Rushworth from UEA Norwich Medical School, in collaboration with Earlham Institute and Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital (UK) and Buck Institute for Senior Research in California. It was funded by the Rosetrees Trust and the Big C charity of Norfolk.
The study also identified a mechanism by which this premature aging process occurs in the bone marrow of patients with leukemia, and highlights the potential impact on future treatment.
Rushworth said: "Our results show that cancer causes aging. We have clearly shown that the cancer cells themselves are leading the aging process in adjacent non-cancer cells.
"Our research reveals that leukemia uses this biological phenomenon to speed up the disease."
NOX2, an enzyme that is usually associated with the body's response to infection, has been observed to be in the cells of acute myeloid leukemia (AML) – and was found to be responsible for creating the conditions of aging.
The research team found that the NOX2 enzyme produces a superoxide that drives the aging process.
By eliminating NOX2, researchers showed that the decline in older neonatal malignant cells caused slower growth of cancer.
Dr Rushworth said: "It was not known in the past that leukemia causes the aging of the local non-cancer environment. We hope that this biological function will be used in the future, paving the way for new medicines."
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