Understanding the role of exosomes/microvesicles in the CLL microenvironment
We are studying the most common form of adult leukemia called chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL). Though there are many new treatments available, there is still no cure for CLL. Cancer cells can release particles that contain material that act as messengers to the cells around them. We have found that CLL patients that have more particles in their blood have more aggressive disease. We will investigate if these particles are playing a role in the development of drug resistance. It is also possible that these particles could be changing the function of other cells in the body, creating an environment that makes it easier for the cancer cells to survive. Finally, we will use a 3D model of cellular tissues to see if blocking the release of these particles will increase the amount of cell death in the cancer cells. Drug resistance remains a significant clinical barrier to treat CLL patients. By understanding the role these particles play in promoting cell survival in CLL cells, effective therapeutic strategies could be developed to overcome drug resistance.