Blanco receives NCI grant to study prevention of drug-related cardiotoxicity in children with Down syndrome and acute myeloid leukemia

L-R: Post-doctoral researcher Romina Cejas, Professor Javier Blanco, and MS student Kenneth Anderson.

L-R: Post-doctoral researcher Romina Cejas, Professor Javier Blanco, and MS student Kenneth Anderson

By Kara Sweet

Published September 30, 2019

BUFFALO, N.Y. — Professor of Pharmaceutical Sciences Javier Blanco, Clin. Biochem, PhD, has been awarded a $438,000 R21 grant from the National Cancer Institute to explore the prevention of drug-related cardiotoxicity in children with Down syndrome and acute myeloid leukemia.

“Results of these integrative studies will provide new data for the design of novel pharmacological interventions to prevent the development of cardiotoxicity in children with Down syndrome and acute myeloid leukemia.”
Javier Blanco, Professor
Department of Pharmaceutical Sciences

Children with Down syndrome (trisomy 21) have a reported ten- to twenty-fold increased risk of developing acute myeloid leukemia (AML). Current treatments using anthracycline drugs achieve good results, however these children are also at high risk for treatment-related side effects, including anthracycline cardiotoxicity.

The funded project, entitled “Evaluation of myocardial targets to prevent anthracycline cardiotoxicity in children with Down syndrome and leukemia,” will delineate the contribution of selected candidate genes and proteins to anthracycline cardiotoxicity using model cardiac cells with trisomy 21 and samples of heart tissue from persons with Down syndrome.

Previous work from Blanco’s group has shown that the expression of specific chromosome 21 genes is altered in the cardiac muscle tissue of individuals with Down syndrome. 

“For the past ten years, our team has been characterizing molecular determinants for the increased risk of anthracycline-related cardiotoxicity experienced by pediatric patients with acute leukemias and Down syndrome,” says Blanco, Principal Investigator on the project. “Results of these integrative studies will provide new data for the design of novel pharmacological interventions to prevent the development of cardiotoxicity in children with Down syndrome and AML.”

Adolfo Quiñones-Lombraña.

Dr. Adolfo Quiñones-Lombraña

Additional contributors include Dr. Adolfo Quiñones-Lombraña, a former post-doctoral researcher in the Blanco Lab, and post-doctoral associate Dr. Romina Cejas.

For over 130 years, the University at Buffalo School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences has continually been a leader in the education of pharmacists and pharmaceutical scientists, renowned for innovation in clinical practice and research. The school is accredited by the American Council of Pharmaceutical Education (ACPE) and is the No. 1 ranked school of pharmacy in New York State and No. 22 in the United States by U.S. News & World Report.