Chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL) remains an incurable disease and a significant health concern. Most patients responding to therapies eventually relapse. A primary reason for disease relapse is that tissue microenvironments form niches to harbor the residual leukemic cells.
The research of Wei Ding, MBBS, Ph.D., is focused on identifying the key factors in the interaction of leukemic cells with host cells in order to develop novel therapies for relapsed CLL patients.
- Bone marrow environment. Dr. Ding has observed an ongoing bidirectional activation between CLL leukemic cells and bone marrow-derived stromal cells, which are a key component for hematopoietic niches. She has been focusing her research on investigating the bone marrow environment in CLL.
- PI3K/Akt pathway. Dr. Ding has identified the importance of the activation of PI3K/Akt pathway during leukemia-marrow interaction. She has designed a novel clinical study to combine Akt inhibition with standard chemotherapy of bendamustine and rituximab in relapsed CLL patients.
- Immunotherapies. Dr. Ding has been involved in testing the antigen receptor-initiated signal transduction and dysfunctional immune system in CLL patients in order to design more immunotherapies for relapsed CLL patients.
Significance to patient care
Improved knowledge about the three focus areas above will help in the design of novel therapies for relapsed CLL patients.