Pre-Leukemic Stem Cells with Liran Shlush

Guest: Liran Shlush, Researcher, Princess Margaret Cancer Center

Bio and Contact Info

Listen (4:44) Preleukemic stem cells

Listen (7:42) Implications for AML therapy and diagnosis

Listen (2:21) Implications for other cancers

Listen (6:14) Importance of population genetics tools

One of the common topics on our show these days is how researchers can ask better questions. It takes being master at science, but also being connected with patients and their health problems.

Today's guest, Liran Shlush, a cancer researcher at Princess Margaret Cancer Center in Toronto, solved this by being one of those rare physician-scientists. And it's paying off big time.

In February, Liran and a group from the lab of John Dick at the University of Toronto published a major finding into the biology of acute myeloid leukemia (AML). In today's interview, Liran tells us about the discovery of what he terms "pre-leukemic" stem cells. These mutant stem cells go on to form cancerous cells. When AML patients are treated with chemo, the cancerous cells are killed, but the mutant stem cells are still there and can cause recurrence. The finding holds a lot of promise for both treatment, earlier diagnosis, and new screening for AML and perhaps other cancers as well.

Liran was a post doc at the time of the discovery. He tells of his journey from Israel to John Dick's lab in Canada and the lessons along the way. What led him to ask the right questions?

"The scientific lesson I learned--and I was lucky to learn it early in my career--" he says, "is that nothing in biology makes sense except in the light of evolution."

Podcast Sponsor: Integrated DNA Technologies - Introducing the evolution of NGS capture panels