Home » Affecting cellular metabolism as a therapy for acute myeloid leukemia: AIRC supports the IRST study conducted by Dr. Simonetti

Affecting cellular metabolism as a therapy for acute myeloid leukemia: AIRC supports the IRST study conducted by Dr. Simonetti

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Written on February 13, 2024.

The innovative research, which will last five years, aims to “starve” tumor cells to destroy them. For the project, approved as part of the “My First AIRC grant” call, the funds for the first year will be 100 thousand euros.

Affecting some aspects of the metabolism of leukemic cells to “starve” and disarm them, helping to strengthen the immune system’s response against the tumor at the same time. This is the objective of the project entitled “Exploring polyamine metabolism as selective vulnerability for therapeutic combinations in acute myeloid leukemia”, What will be conducted by Dr. Giorgia Simonetticoordinator of the Translational Hematology Unit of the Biosciences Laboratory of IRST “Dino Amadori” IRCCS.

The five-year research was deemed worthy of approval as part of the AIRC MFAG (My First Grant) call. AIRC Foundation for Cancer Research is the most important Italian reality in the field of promotion and support for oncology research. For the first year the project will receive funding of around 100 thousand euros. The funds can be renewed for a further four years, subject to the achievement of the objectives and availability by AIRC, until 31 December 2028.

The idea at the center of the proposed research is to identify those subtypes of leukemia that depend most on the metabolism of polyamines, particular substances capable of inhibiting the immune system. In these cases the therapy will be potentially more effective using low doses of the drug in order to limit side effects. These new agents will be studied in the laboratory, also in combination with conventional therapies, in order to improve the current standard of care. Furthermore, we will try to develop a three-dimensional culture of cells in which to reproduce at least in part the tumor and its environment. The aim is to study therapies capable of affecting the metabolism, in an environment that simulates the bone marrow in which leukemic cells normally reside.

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“Thanks to this project – explains the doctor Giorgia SimonettiWe aim to find an effective therapy for patients with acute myeloid leukemia who cannot receive aggressive treatments and currently have little chance of a cure. The project is based on drugs that are already used to treat patients suffering from leukemia or other diseases, therefore the results obtained could quickly turn into a possible benefit for patients.

“For our Institute – he adds the professor. Giovanni MartinelliScientific Director of IRST Dino Amadori IRCCS – it is a source of great prestige and honor to receive this further support from AIRC, thanks to the quality of Dr. Simonetti’s research. Through these certifications, IRST continues to position itself as a reference center in Romagna and beyond. The possibility of hitting leukemic cells, depriving them of their fuel, polyamines, in order to starve them to the point of destroying them, can also open up important scenarios in the testing of treatments for the treatment of solid tumors”.

My First AIRC Grants (MFAG) support the projects of researchers who have never received AIRC funding before. They are a concrete tool with which young scientists can experiment with running their own project in an Italian structure of excellence and become progressively autonomous and independent. Projects are selected through an evaluation process based on the international peer review method for relevance to cancer, originality, innovativeness and feasibility.

The realization of the project is possible thanks to the work of a IRST multidisciplinary group which involves the Translational Hematology Unit of the Biosciences Laboratory (in particular Drs. Martina Ghetti, Francesca Pirini, Francesca Ruggieri), the Biostatistics and Clinical Trials Unit (Dr. Irene Azzali, biostatistics, and Dr. Davide Angeli, bioinformatics) and the CSE Hematology and Transplant Structure (Dr. Giovanni Marconi). Furthermore, the study will be carried out thanks to the precious collaboration of Prof. Stefania Rapino (University of Bologna) for the construction of the 3D model; by Dr. Claudia Sala (University of Bologna) for the integration of omics data and machine learning models; of Dr. Sabina Sangaletti (National Cancer Institute of Milan) for immunological studies and on preclinical models; and Dr. Bruno Fosso (University of Bari) for the analysis of microbiota data.

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It’s about the sixth project which, over the last five years, the AIRC Foundation has supported for a study conducted in IRST. Dr.’s project ended at the beginning of 2024. Ugo De Giorgi as part of an “Accelerator Award” supported by AIRC, CRUK and FC AECC. However, two Investigator Grants led respectively by prof. Giovanni Martinelli and Dr. Paola Ulivi, and an MFAG conducted by Dr. Marcella Tazzari.

“For our part, our thanks go to AIRC which, with its support for our projects, allows us to enhance both the research activity carried out in our institute and the role and work of our researchers”, claims the General Director, Lorenzo Maffioli. “Also thanks to this contribution – he adds – IRST is able to develop its activity in different fields and in contexts in which, as also for the study carried out by Dr. Simonetti, networking with other important national institutions is fundamental”.

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