Learn more about the Keystone Program in Blood Cell Development and Cancer.
“With the established, in-house expertise we have at our disposal, Fox Chase is uniquely positioned to have a major impact on the understanding of normal blood cell development and the development of blood cancers.” – David L. Wiest, Ph.D.
Human blood is made up of a variety of specialized, distinct cell types that are all descended from a single precursor cell found in the bone marrow, called the blood stem cell. Production of specialized blood cells from stem cells requires that critical genes be turned on or off in a precisely controlled, orderly manner.
The Keystone Program in Blood Cell Development and Cancer seeks to identify those genes that are essential for stem cells to give rise to each of the distinct blood cell types. The identification of this vital suite of genes is a critical step towards improving the treatment of patients with leukemias and lymphomas, which are blood cell cancers that account for more than 100,000 new cancer cases each year.
Indeed, it has been shown repeatedly that the same genes that regulate normal blood cell development also play key roles in converting healthy blood cells into tumor cells. Identifying such genes offers the opportunity of improving diagnosis and eventually exploiting them as targets for customized therapies for certain cancers. Even as normal blood cells arise from stem cells, some cancers are also thought to be driven by a subset of stem-cell-like tumor cells, called “cancer stem cells”, which could represent a critical new target population for future therapies.