Development and characterization of a new human model of Chronic Myeloid Leukemia

Chronic myeloid leukemia (CML) is a specific type of leukemia in which there is a latent, or dormant, phase for several years before the rapid onset of fatal symptoms. This type of leukemia is difficult to study because the CML cells usually die when they are grown in laboratory conditions. Using human embryonic stem cells for CML research may be a viable option, as this type of cell readily grows in vitro and has the ability to develop into the type of blood cell affected by CML. The cells could be used to mimic some of the genetic changes seen in leukemia to identify important changes that trigger or block the progression of this disease. Melanie Kardel is working to develop techniques for creating leukemic cells from human embryonic stem cells in the laboratory. Because these cells could be grown in the lab for longer periods of time, more extensive studies than are currently possible could be performed, leading to the identification of new targets for therapy. Once targets are identified, this system would also be used to test the potential success of the therapies before they advance to clinical trial.