Scientists examine the effect of the tumor microenvironment on cancer fate in acute lymphocytic leukemia (ALL), a disease prevalent in young children. They find that the tumor-adjacent dendritic cells provide essential cues for cancer growth.
For the past fifty years, the incidence of acute lymphocytic leukemia (ALL), a cancer of immature white blood cells, has been rising steadily. Currently, about 6,500 new cases occur annually in the US. The onset of the wretched disease is most common in early childhood, between ages 2 and 5, but can also happen later in life. Luckily, modern chemotherapy and stem cell approaches have resulted in a substantial increase in the 5-year survival rate for children affected by the disease, to over 75%. However, outlook remains poor for those that do not respond well to these therapies. As is the case for the disease’s chronic counterpart, CLL, more treatment options are sorely needed (as we recently reported).