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Research

Chronic Lymphocytic Leukemia (CLL): Fast Facts

Chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL) occurs when the bone marrow makes too many abnormal white blood cells, or lymphocytes, that never become healthy, infection-fighting cells. As the number of these abnormal lymphocytes increases, they interfere with the production of other important blood cells, leading to multiple complications, including infection, easy bleeding and swollen lymph nodes. CLL usually gets worse slowly. CLL is the second most common form of leukemia in adults and rarely occurs in children. More than half of people diagnosed with CLL are older than 70, and cases rarely occur in individuals younger than 40.

Acute Myeloid Leukemia (AML): Fast Facts

Acute myeloid leukemia (AML) is the most common type of blood cancer in adults. If untreated, this form of leukemia usually progresses quickly. Acute myeloid leukemia also goes by other names, including acute myelogenous leukemia, acute myeloblastic leukemia, acute granulocytic leukemia, and acute nonlymphocytic leukemia. In a healthy person, bone marrow makes the blood stem cells that mature into infection-fighting white blood cells, oxygen-carrying red blood cells and blood-clotting platelets. When a person has AML, cells called myeloid stem cells usually develop instead into a type of immature white blood cell called myeloblasts, which never go on to become healthy, infection-fighting white blood cells. Sometimes in AML, too many stem cells also develop into abnormal red blood cells or platelets. When these abnormal, or leukemia, cells build up in the bone marrow and blood, there is less room for healthy white blood cells, red blood cells, and platelets, which may lead to infection, anemia, or easy bleeding. The leukemia cells can spread outside the blood to other parts of the body, including the brain, skin and gums.


Current Research Interest

The Radioimmunotherapy Approach

The age-old challenge faced by every cancer researcher is one of simple precision; i.e. how to selectively target and kill cancerous cells, while causing the minimal amount of collateral damage to healthy cells, the innocent bystanders in this cellular battle. Several years ago, Fred Hutch scientists helped pioneer one elegant approach to the problem. Known as radioimmunotherapy, this approach employs certain antibodies that bind molecules highly expressed on particular cancers. The antibody binding promotes cell death via downstream cell signaling pathways and the radioactive payload provides additional killing power.

The pioneering work of Drs. Fred Appelbaum, Oliver Press and others established Fred Hutch as an international leader in the radioimmunotherapy field. Dr. Orozco began his research career under the supervision of Drs.  Press and John Pagel and recently joined the faculty in the Clinical Research Division. He is the principal investigator of several clinical trials of novel leukemia radioimmunotherapies and his laboratory works to develop and improve various types of antibody therapy for leukemia and lymphoma patients, including in the HCT setting.

Acute Myeloid Leukemia (AML)

In a healthy person, blood stem cells from the bone marrow can produce infection-fighting white blood cells, oxygen-carrying red blood cells and blood-clotting platelets. Usually, when a person has AML, these cells instead develop into a type of immature white blood cell that never goes on to become healthy, infection-fighting white blood cells. Sometimes in AML, too many stem cells develop into abnormal red blood cells or platelets. When these leukemia cells build up in the bone marrow and blood, there is less room for healthy  blood cells, which can lead to infection, anemia and/or bleeding disorders. The leukemia cells can also spread outside the blood to other parts of the body, including the brain, skin and gums. 

AML is the most common type of blood cancer in adults, but also occurs in children. If untreated, AML usually progresses very quickly and often cannot be managed with available therapies. 

The Orozco lab is developing new treatment options for patients with untreated AML, AML that has reappeared after an initial remission and AML that never enters complete remission.


Clinical Trials