SFU Researcher scores major funding for Acute Myeloid Leukemia research

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January 21, 2020

The American Society of Hematology (ASH) awards Ly Vu, an Assistant Professor in the Department of Molecular Biology and Biochemistry, an ASH Scholar Award.

The prestigious award in support of early career scientists provides $125,000 USD for Vu’s research seeking new therapeutic targets for Acute Myeloid Leukemia (AML).

AML is a cancer characterized by abnormal development of blood cells. It is one of the most common types of leukemia in Canada and is most often diagnosed in people over the age of 65.

Despite advances in the understanding of AML and the availability of aggressive treatment regimens, ~30% of AML patients relapse from the disease.

One of the main drivers of resistance to therapy and relapse in patients is the presence of leukemia stem cells (LSCs). LCSs  are a small population of leukemia cells known for their self-renewal properties and their ability to mediate resistance and relapse after therapy. While genetic mutations in AML are well known, much less is known about how changes in processes of protein synthesis contribute to pathogenesis of AML.

Vu will use the funds to uncover the role of mechanisms of protein generation in maintaining blood stem cells and their contribution to the transformation of stem cells in leukemia. The ultimate goal of the research program is to develop new therapies that target leukemia cells while sparing normal cells. 

Vu also holds appointments at the BC Cancer Agency and the department of Medical Genetics at UBC.