New research at McMaster University reported that destroying cancer cells by bolstering adipocytes/fat cells in the bone marrow could benefit patients with acute myeloid leukaemia (AML). The findings reported that boosting fat cells, repressed cancerous leukaemia cells and regenerated healthy blood cells at the same time. The study was published in the journal Nature Cell Biology.

The production of healthy red blood cells is critical for patients with AML and is also overlooked since traditional approaches have focused on killing the leukaemia cells alone. Patients with AML are at risk of developing anemia due to the failure of healthy blood production, further leading to increase in hospitalization and death rates.

The first author of the study Allison Boyd said, "Our approach represents a unique way of looking at leukaemia and considers the entire bone marrow as an ecosystem, rather than the traditional approach of studying and trying to kill the diseased cells themselves directly. These conventional treatments have not delivered enough new therapeutic options for patients. The standard-of-care for this disease has not changed in several decades."

The McMaster led the study on leukaemia patients three and half years before and collected bone marrow samples. The detailed study and imaging of individual leukaemia cells were compared to healthy cells existed in the bone marrow which revealed the effects of targeting fat cells.

The team used the moderate diabetes drug which induced fat cell production in the bone marrow. The drug helped to foster red blood cell production and suppressed leukemic disease. "The focus of chemotherapy and existing standard-of-care is on killing cancer cells but instead we took a completely different approach which changes the environment the cancer cells live in," said Mick Bhatia

The drug repressed the cancerous cells and boosted the healthy red blood cells which enabled them to restore in the new drug-induced environment. "The fact that we can target one cell type in one tissue using an existing drug makes us excited about the possibilities of testing this in patients with leukaemia," he added.

The findings showed that the drug could become a prospective novel treatment which could either be added to present treatment strategies or even replace the existing treatments in the upcoming days. The drug activates blood regeneration and which may help the patients seeking for bone marrow transplants by activating their own healthy cells.