Research in Molecular Hematology and Therapy

Dr. William F. Benedict's lab initially cloned the retinoblastoma (Rb) gene and more recently has demonstrated its prognostic importance in leukemias and several solid tumors, in collaboration with Drs. Shi-Xue Hu and Steven Kornblau. 

Dr. Hu, in collaboration with Dr. Xu, of Molecular and Cellular Oncology, and Dr. Benedict, has developed an altered form of Rb that will suppress tumor growth when transferred into malignant cells and which will soon be be tested in clinical trials. 

Dr. Lalitha Nagarajan is in pursuit of the critical genes involved in the 5q- and 7q- abnormalities in myeloid leukemias. Once identified, they will reveal mechanisms that lead to our most deadly leukemias and be amenable to molecular therapeutic interventions. 

Dr. David Claxton participated in cloning the gene involved in certain types of acute leukemias (inv. 16) and is actively investigating the mechanisms that deregulate cell growth. 

Dr. Richard Giles has contributed significantly to the development of MDR-1 gene therapy initiated by former chairman, Dr. Albert Deisseroth. His research has allowed the transduction of human hematopoietic stem cells with the protective MDR gene - a concept that is already undergoing clinical trials in patients with ovarian and breast cancers. 

Dr. Michael Andreeff has worked on the better molecular characterization of normal and leukemia stem cells, in particular with regard to molecules regulating apoptosis.

Over the last few years, cytokine-chemotherapy combinations were developed to enhance cell-killing of leukemic cells and this concept has become standard treatment for AML at MD Anderson Cancer Center. Great effort has been invested in better understanding molecular cytogenetics of leukemia and lymphomas. Numerous other projects are ongoing in collaboration with the Leukemia, Lymphoma and BMT Sections in the Department of Hematology. Major funding has been awarded from the NCI to support some of the projects including a Program Project Grant entitled, "The Therapy of AML."