Exploiting a new epigenetic regulatory mechanism for sustaining leukaemia-initiating activity


Dr Jenny Y. Wang

University of Sydney (NSW)


2024 - 2027

The Research

Blood cancer is one of the highest causes of cancer death in Australia, claiming more lives than breast cancer and melanoma combined. Over 5,950 people are expected to lose their life to blood cancer in 2022 and this is equivalent to 16 people per day, according to the Leukaemia Foundation’s latest report. Acute myeloid leukaemia (AML) is the deadliest form of blood cancer and only 27% of AML patients can survive for 5 years after being diagnosed. The major cause of poor clinical outcomes is the persistence of leukaemia-initiating cells (LICs). These cells have the capacity to escape chemotherapy (a primary treatment for AML) and to make more of themselves indefinitely (known as self-renewal). There are currently no effective treatments to target these cells.

Ground-breaking research from Dr Wang’s laboratory has recently discovered a key self-renewal pathway (i.e., GPR84) essential for the survival of LICs. This project proposes to evaluate the survival mechanism that LICs use to protect themselves and to evade chemotherapy.


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