• The researchers initially observed that some of the cancer cells in culture were changing shape and size into what looked like macrophages. The reasons for the changed cells were a mystery until they remembered an old research paper, which showed that early B-cell mouse progenitor cells could be forced to become macrophages when exposed to certain transcription factors — proteins that bind to certain DNA sequences.
  • Majeti and his colleagues have some reason to hope that when the cancer cells become macrophages they will not only be neutralized, but may actually assist in fighting the cancer.
  • The researchers’ next steps will be to see if they can find a drug that will prompt the same reaction and that could serve as the basis for a therapy for the leukemia. There is some precedent for such a treatment.

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