AML is a disease of the bone marrow (BM) that spreads throughout the bones of affected patients. Interactions between AML cells and its surroundings play important protective and promotive functions in leukemia growth, maintenance, and spread. Current laboratory experimental systems are not yet able to recapitulate this dynamic relationship outside of the body, and animal studies cannot visualize the changes in AML progression until death of the animal. Such methodologies are blind to important aspects of leukemia development and hinder the advancement of AML research.
The DaCosta lab has developed a femur window chamber (FWC) model that allows scientists to look directly into the bone of a living mouse and track the movements and/or changes of cells within the BM, over time. Together with the Minden lab, we will use this innovation to study AML cell biology, characterize proteins that AML cells produce, and test the effect of various new anti-AML drugs, all within the living BM and in real time. Our goal is to uncover limitations in current therapies and find new treatment combinations that address vulnerabilities in AML biology to improve patient outcomes in the future. This critical research project has the potential to uncover new knowledge surrounding AML biology and help develop new AML clinical trials.