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Special Issue "Advances in Molecular Biology and Targeted Therapy of Leukemias"

A special issue of International Journal of Molecular Sciences (ISSN 1422-0067). This special issue belongs to the section "Molecular Pathology, Diagnostics, and Therapeutics".

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (28 February 2019) | Viewed by 22952

Special Issue Editor

Dr. Simona Soverini
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
Department of Experimental, Diagnostic and Specialty Medicine, Hematology/Oncology "L. e A. Seragnoli", University of Bologna, Via Massarenti 9, 40138 Bologna, Italy
Interests: hematology; leukemias; next-generation sequencing; mutation analysis
Special Issues, Collections and Topics in MDPI journals

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues

Over the last decade, the advent of ‘omics’ technologies has greatly improved our understanding of the molecular mechanisms underlying the initiation and progression of many forms of leukemia and has led to the identification of several “druggable” targets. The molecular dissection of the leukemia genome and transcriptome has also improved the way we diagnose, classify and monitor patients.

This Special Issue of the International Journal of Molecular Sciences will focus on "Advances in Molecular Biology and Targeted Therapy of Leukemias” with the aim to provide an updated overview of the current knowledge on the pathogenesis of leukemias, lymphomas and myeloma, of the promises and pitfalls of targeted therapeutic approeaches and of how molecular profiling and molecular monitoring are being integrated into the routine management of patients. 

Assistant Professor Simona Soverini
Guest Editor

Manuscript Submission Information

Manuscripts should be submitted online at www.mdpi.com by registering and logging in to this website. Once you are registered, click here to go to the submission form. Manuscripts can be submitted until the deadline. All submissions that pass pre-check are peer-reviewed. Accepted papers will be published continuously in the journal (as soon as accepted) and will be listed together on the special issue website. Research articles, review articles as well as short communications are invited. For planned papers, a title and short abstract (about 100 words) can be sent to the Editorial Office for announcement on this website.

Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are thoroughly refereed through a single-blind peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. International Journal of Molecular Sciences is an international peer-reviewed open access semimonthly journal published by MDPI.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. There is an Article Processing Charge (APC) for publication in this open access journal. For details about the APC please see here. Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.

Keywords

  • leukemia
  • lymphoma
  • myeloma
  • targeted therapy
  • tyrosine kinase inhibitors
  • minimal residual disease monitoring

Published Papers (9 papers)

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Research

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Article
Clinical Implications of Discordant Early Molecular Responses in CML Patients Treated with Imatinib
Int. J. Mol. Sci. 2019, 20(9), 2226; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijms20092226 - 06 May 2019
Cited by 15 | Viewed by 1635
Abstract
A reduction in BCR-ABL1/ABL1IS transcript levels to <10% after 3 months or <1% after 6 months of tyrosine kinase inhibitor therapy are associated with superior clinical outcomes in chronic myeloid leukemia (CML) patients. In this study, we investigated the reliability of multiple [...] Read more.
A reduction in BCR-ABL1/ABL1IS transcript levels to <10% after 3 months or <1% after 6 months of tyrosine kinase inhibitor therapy are associated with superior clinical outcomes in chronic myeloid leukemia (CML) patients. In this study, we investigated the reliability of multiple BCR-ABL1 thresholds in predicting treatment outcomes for 184 subjects diagnosed with CML and treated with standard-dose imatinib mesylate (IM). With a median follow-up of 61 months, patients with concordant BCR-ABL1/ABL1IS transcripts below the defined thresholds (10% at 3 months and 1% at 6 months) displayed significantly superior rates of event-free survival (86.1% vs. 26.6%) and deep molecular response (≥ MR4; 71.5% vs. 16.1%) compared to individuals with BCR-ABL1/ABL1IS levels above these defined thresholds. We then analyzed the outcomes of subjects displaying discordant molecular transcripts at 3- and 6-month time points. Among these patients, those with BCR-ABL1/ABL1IS values >10% at 3 months but <1% at 6 months fared significantly better than individuals with BCR-ABL1/ABL1IS <10% at 3 months but >1% at 6 months (event-free survival 68.2% vs. 32.7%; p < 0.001). Likewise, subjects with BCR-ABL1/ABL1IS at 3 months >10% but <1% at 6 months showed a higher cumulative incidence of MR4 compared to patients with BCR-ABL1/ABL1IS <10% at 3 months but >1% at 6 months (75% vs. 18.2%; p < 0.001). Finally, lower BCR-ABL1/GUSIS transcripts at diagnosis were associated with BCR-ABL1/ABL1IS values <1% at 6 months (p < 0.001). Our data suggest that when assessing early molecular responses to therapy, the 6-month BCR-ABL1/ABL1IS level displays a superior prognostic value compared to the 3-month measurement in patients with discordant oncogenic transcripts at these two pivotal time points. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Advances in Molecular Biology and Targeted Therapy of Leukemias)
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Article
Cytarabine-Resistant FLT3-ITD Leukemia Cells are Associated with TP53 Mutation and Multiple Pathway Alterations—Possible Therapeutic Efficacy of Cabozantinib
Int. J. Mol. Sci. 2019, 20(5), 1230; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijms20051230 - 11 Mar 2019
Cited by 3 | Viewed by 2133
Abstract
Internal tandem duplication of FLT3 juxtamembrane domain (FLT3-ITD)-positive acute myeloid leukemia (AML) leads to poor clinical outcomes after chemotherapy. We aimed to establish a cytarabine-resistant line from FLT3-ITD-positive MV4-11 (MV4-11-P) cells and examine the development of resistance. The FLT3-ITD [...] Read more.
Internal tandem duplication of FLT3 juxtamembrane domain (FLT3-ITD)-positive acute myeloid leukemia (AML) leads to poor clinical outcomes after chemotherapy. We aimed to establish a cytarabine-resistant line from FLT3-ITD-positive MV4-11 (MV4-11-P) cells and examine the development of resistance. The FLT3-ITD mutation was retained in MV4-11-R; however, the protein was underglycosylated and less phosphorylated in these cells. Moreover, the phosphorylation of ERK1/2, Akt, MEK1/2 and p53 increased in MV4-11-R. The levels of Mcl-1 and p53 proteins were also elevated in MV4-11-R. A p53 D281G mutant emerged in MV4-11-R, in addition to the pre-existing R248W mutation. MV4-11-P and MV4-11-R showed similar sensitivity to cabozantinib, sorafenib, and MK2206, whereas MV4-11-R showed resistance to CI-1040 and idarubicin. MV4-11-R resistance may be associated with inhibition of Akt phosphorylation, but not ERK phosphorylation, after exposure to these drugs. The multi-kinase inhibitor cabozantinib inhibited FLT3-ITD signaling in MV4-11-R cells and MV4-11-R-derived tumors in mice. Cabozantinib effectively inhibited tumor growth and prolonged survival time in mice bearing MV4-11-R-derived tumors. Together, our findings suggest that Mcl-1 and Akt phosphorylation are potential therapeutic targets for p53 mutants and that cabozantinib is an effective treatment in cytarabine-resistant FLT3-ITD-positive AML. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Advances in Molecular Biology and Targeted Therapy of Leukemias)
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Article
Bone Marrow Mast Cell Antibody-Targetable Cell Surface Protein Expression Profiles in Systemic Mastocytosis
Int. J. Mol. Sci. 2019, 20(3), 552; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijms20030552 - 28 Jan 2019
Cited by 6 | Viewed by 1984
Abstract
Despite recent therapeutic advances, systemic mastocytosis (SM) remains an incurable disease due to limited complete remission (CR) rates even after novel therapies. To date, no study has evaluated the expression on SM bone marrow mast cells (BMMC) of large panel of cell surface [...] Read more.
Despite recent therapeutic advances, systemic mastocytosis (SM) remains an incurable disease due to limited complete remission (CR) rates even after novel therapies. To date, no study has evaluated the expression on SM bone marrow mast cells (BMMC) of large panel of cell surface suitable for antibody-targeted therapy. In this study, we analyzed the expression profile of six cell-surface proteins for which antibody-based therapies are available, on BMMC from 166 SM patients vs. 40 controls. Overall, variable patterns of expression for the markers evaluated were observed among SM BMMC. Thus, CD22, CD30, and CD123, while expressed on BMMC from patients within every subtype of SM, showed highly variable patterns with a significant fraction of negative cases among advanced SM (aggressive SM (ASM), ASM with an associated clonal non-MC lineage disease (ASM-AHN) and MC leukemia (MCL)), 36%, 46%, and 39%, respectively. In turn, CD25 and FcεRI were found to be expressed in most cases (89% and 92%) in virtually all BMMC (median: 92% and 95%) from both indolent and advanced SM, but with lower/absent levels in a significant fraction of MC leukemia (MCL) and both in MCL and well-differentiated SM (WDSM) patients, respectively. In contrast, CD33 was the only marker expressed on all BMMC from every SM patient. Thus, CD33 emerges as the best potentially targetable cell-surface membrane marker in SM, particularly in advanced SM. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Advances in Molecular Biology and Targeted Therapy of Leukemias)
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Review

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Review
Minimal Residual Disease Monitoring with Next-Generation Sequencing Methodologies in Hematological Malignancies
Int. J. Mol. Sci. 2019, 20(11), 2832; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijms20112832 - 10 Jun 2019
Cited by 21 | Viewed by 2789
Abstract
Ultra-deep next-generation sequencing has emerged in recent years as an important diagnostic tool for the detection and follow-up of tumor burden in most of the known hematopoietic malignancies. Meticulous and high-throughput methods for the lowest possible quantified disease are needed to address the [...] Read more.
Ultra-deep next-generation sequencing has emerged in recent years as an important diagnostic tool for the detection and follow-up of tumor burden in most of the known hematopoietic malignancies. Meticulous and high-throughput methods for the lowest possible quantified disease are needed to address the deficiencies of more classical techniques. Precision-based approaches will allow us to correctly stratify each patient based on the minimal residual disease (MRD) after a treatment cycle. In this review, we consider the most prominent ways to approach next-generation sequencing methodologies to follow-up MRD in hematological neoplasms. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Advances in Molecular Biology and Targeted Therapy of Leukemias)
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Review
Acute Myeloid Leukemia Mutations: Therapeutic Implications
Int. J. Mol. Sci. 2019, 20(11), 2721; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijms20112721 - 03 Jun 2019
Cited by 13 | Viewed by 1820
Abstract
Acute Myeloid Leukemia (AML) is an extremely heterogeneous group of hematological neoplasms, for which allogeneic stem cell transplantation (HSCT) still represents the only potentially curative option in the majority of cases. However, elderly age and clinically severe comorbidities may often exclude a wide [...] Read more.
Acute Myeloid Leukemia (AML) is an extremely heterogeneous group of hematological neoplasms, for which allogeneic stem cell transplantation (HSCT) still represents the only potentially curative option in the majority of cases. However, elderly age and clinically severe comorbidities may often exclude a wide amount of patients from this therapeutic approach, underlying the urgent need for alternative strategies. Thanks to the introduction of advanced high-throughput techniques, light is being shed on the pathogenesis of AML, identifying molecular recurrent mutations as responsible for the onset, as well as progression, of disease. As a consequence, and in parallel, many new compounds, including targeted therapies (FMS-like tyrosine kinase 3 (FLT3) and Isocitrate dehydrogenase 1-2 (IDH1-2) inhibitors), have found a wide room of application in this setting, and are now available in daily practice, or in late phases of clinical development. Moreover, several further innovative molecules are currently under investigation, and promising results for many of them have already been reported. In this review, we will present an update on the most relevant molecular alterations of AML, focusing on the most frequent genomic mutations of the disease, for which compounds have been approved or are still currently under investigation. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Advances in Molecular Biology and Targeted Therapy of Leukemias)
Review
Digital PCR in Myeloid Malignancies: Ready to Replace Quantitative PCR?
Int. J. Mol. Sci. 2019, 20(9), 2249; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijms20092249 - 07 May 2019
Cited by 26 | Viewed by 3004
Abstract
New techniques are on the horizon for the detection of small leukemic clones in both, acute leukemias and myeloproliferative disorders. A promising approach is based on digital polymerase chain reaction (PCR). Digital PCR (dPCR) is a breakthrough technology designed to provide absolute nucleic [...] Read more.
New techniques are on the horizon for the detection of small leukemic clones in both, acute leukemias and myeloproliferative disorders. A promising approach is based on digital polymerase chain reaction (PCR). Digital PCR (dPCR) is a breakthrough technology designed to provide absolute nucleic acid quantification. It is particularly useful to detect a low amount of target and therefore it represents an alternative method for detecting measurable residual disease (MRD). The main advantages are the high precision, the very reliable quantification, the absolute quantification without the need for a standard curve, and the excellent reproducibility. Nowadays the main disadvantages of this strategy are the costs that are still higher than standard qPCR, the lack of standardized methods, and the limited number of laboratories that are equipped with instruments for dPCR. Several studies describing the possibility and advantages of using digital PCR for the detection of specific leukemic transcripts or mutations have already been published. In this review we summarize the available data on the use of dPCR in acute myeloid leukemia and myeloproliferative disorders. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Advances in Molecular Biology and Targeted Therapy of Leukemias)
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Review
New Targeted Agents in Acute Myeloid Leukemia: New Hope on the Rise
Int. J. Mol. Sci. 2019, 20(8), 1983; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijms20081983 - 23 Apr 2019
Cited by 55 | Viewed by 3719
Abstract
The therapeutic approach for acute myeloid leukemia (AML) remains challenging, since over the last four decades a stagnation in standard cytotoxic treatment has been observed. But within recent years, remarkable advances in the understanding of the molecular heterogeneity and complexity of this disease [...] Read more.
The therapeutic approach for acute myeloid leukemia (AML) remains challenging, since over the last four decades a stagnation in standard cytotoxic treatment has been observed. But within recent years, remarkable advances in the understanding of the molecular heterogeneity and complexity of this disease have led to the identification of novel therapeutic targets. In the last two years, seven new targeted agents (midostaurin, gilteritinib, enasidenib, ivosidenib, glasdegib, venetoclax and gemtuzumab ozogamicin) have received US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approval for the treatment of AML. These drugs did not just prove to have a clinical benefit as single agents but have especially improved AML patient outcomes if they are combined with conventional therapy. In this review, we will focus on currently approved and promising upcoming agents and we will discuss controversial aspects and limitations of targeted treatment strategies. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Advances in Molecular Biology and Targeted Therapy of Leukemias)
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Review
Blast Transformation in Myeloproliferative Neoplasms: Risk Factors, Biological Findings, and Targeted Therapeutic Options
Int. J. Mol. Sci. 2019, 20(8), 1839; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijms20081839 - 13 Apr 2019
Cited by 30 | Viewed by 2470
Abstract
Myeloproliferative neoplasms represent a heterogenous group of disorders of the hematopoietic stem cell, with an intrinsic risk of evolution into acute myeloid leukemia. The frequency of leukemic evolution varies according to myeloproliferative neoplasms subtype. It is highest in primary myelofibrosis, where it is [...] Read more.
Myeloproliferative neoplasms represent a heterogenous group of disorders of the hematopoietic stem cell, with an intrinsic risk of evolution into acute myeloid leukemia. The frequency of leukemic evolution varies according to myeloproliferative neoplasms subtype. It is highest in primary myelofibrosis, where it is estimated to be approximately 10–20% at 10 years, following by polycythemia vera, with a risk of 2.3% at 10 years and 7.9% at 20 years. In essential thrombocythemia, however, transformation to acute myeloid leukemia is considered relatively uncommon. Different factors are associated with leukemic evolution in myeloproliferative neoplasms, but generally include advanced age, leukocytosis, exposure to myelosuppressive therapy, cytogenetic abnormalities, as well as increased number of mutations in genes associated with myeloid neoplasms. The prognosis of these patients is dismal, with a medium overall survival ranging from 2.6–7.0 months. Currently, there is no standard of care for managing the blast phase of these diseases, and no treatment to date has consistently led to prolonged survival and/or hematological remission apart from an allogeneic stem cell transplant. Nevertheless, new targeted agents are currently under development. In this review, we present the current evidence regarding risk factors, molecular characterization, and treatment options for this critical subset of myeloproliferative neoplasms patients. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Advances in Molecular Biology and Targeted Therapy of Leukemias)
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Review
Antigen Targets for the Development of Immunotherapies in Leukemia
Int. J. Mol. Sci. 2019, 20(6), 1397; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijms20061397 - 20 Mar 2019
Cited by 6 | Viewed by 3094
Abstract
Immunotherapeutic approaches, including allogeneic stem cell transplantation and donor lymphocyte infusion, have significantly improved the prognosis of leukemia patients. Further efforts are now focusing on the development of immunotherapies that are able to target leukemic cells more specifically, comprising monoclonal antibodies, chimeric antigen [...] Read more.
Immunotherapeutic approaches, including allogeneic stem cell transplantation and donor lymphocyte infusion, have significantly improved the prognosis of leukemia patients. Further efforts are now focusing on the development of immunotherapies that are able to target leukemic cells more specifically, comprising monoclonal antibodies, chimeric antigen receptor (CAR) T cells, and dendritic cell- or peptide-based vaccination strategies. One main prerequisite for such antigen-specific approaches is the selection of suitable target structures on leukemic cells. In general, the targets for anti-cancer immunotherapies can be divided into two groups: (1) T-cell epitopes relying on the presentation of peptides via human leukocyte antigen (HLA) molecules and (2) surface structures, which are HLA-independently expressed on cancer cells. This review discusses the most promising tumor antigens as well as the underlying discovery and selection strategies for the development of anti-leukemia immunotherapies. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Advances in Molecular Biology and Targeted Therapy of Leukemias)
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