Myelodysplastic syndromes (MDS) and chronic myelomonocytic leukemias (CMML) are both blood cancer with a variety of symptoms and different treatments depending on the severity of the disease and the patient conditions. Although great efforts have been made in the scientific community, the majority of the patients will not achieve complete remission from the cancer and will eventually succumb to the disease.
Previous work from the research group has identified the serotonin receptor, a membrane molecule mainly present in neurons, as a potential therapeutic target for AML. This receptor could be blocked by already approved drugs for Parkinson’s disease. Indeed, the treatment was very effective for AML in mouse models.
In the work published in Scientific Reports, Antònia Banús-Mulet and colleagues found that MDS and CMML leukemic cells greatly expressed the serotonin receptor, similar to AML. More importantly, treatment with these drugs approved for Parkinson’s disease in preclinical laboratory settings was able to kill cancer cells, without affecting healthy blood cells. This work has been done in collaboration with Leukos Biotech, which will pursue further clinical development for testing this new treatment in a future clinical trial in MDS patients.