Acute Myeloid Leukemia (AML) is one of the most common and deadly hematopoietic malignancies in older adults, with its incidence increasing with age. Why do older patients with AML have such a poor prognosis over their younger counterparts? To answer this question, we are using AML as a prototype to explore the relationship of aging and malignant transformation, and how aging may be changing the biology of the hematopoietic diseases in older adults. We are exploring these ideas by comparing the molecular biology of AML in younger and older patients. First, we are examining known molecular pathways involved in its biology such as the FLT3/RAS/ERK pathway. Second, we are developing novel statistical approaches to model gene associations in AML and normal hematopoietic progenitor cells using microarrays and next generation sequencing. Third, we are examining the potential use of protein biomarkers for improving current risk stratification guidelines for AML and development of novel targeted therapies for these patients.
To achieve these research goals, the Stirewalt Lab works closely with many internal and external investigators at the National Cancer Institute (NCI), Southwest Oncology Group (SWOG), and Children’s Oncology Group (COG). In addition, Dr. Stirewalt currently is the Director of both the Fred Hutch/UW Hematopoietic Diseases Repository and the Co-operative Center of Excellence in Hematology (CCEH) Hematopoietic Cell Procurement and Processing Services. These two invaluable resources provide malignant and healthy hematopoietic cells, respectively, to investigators throughout the country.