JANTESS PORTELLI | Understanding resistance of leukaemia to drugs

Updated: Dec 31, 2021

​​Meet Jantess

My name is Jantess Calleja. When I was young, science was the subject that appealed to me the most. When I was admitted to University, I chose to read a science-based degree and in 2019 I graduated with honours as an Allied Health Professional. I am working as a Medical Laboratory Scientist in Mater Dei Hospital. In 2020 I started reading for my Masters Degree in Biomedical Science Cell Therapy and Tissue Banking.

Understanding resistance of leukemia to drugs

I am studying Chronic Myeloid Leukemia (CML) cells. Most people diagnosed with CML are given drug therapy, one of the drugs given is called imatinib. The CML cells can become resistant to imatinib and this resumes the detrimental effects on the patient. I am trying to understand how CML cells become resistant to imatinib.

To do such an experiment, CML cells that are resistant and CML cells that are not resistant to imatinib need to be tested. Different tests are run to determine the differences between the two cell lines. The main tests involve testing for autophagy which is well known to promote drug resistance. The other test involves testing carrier molecules called exosomes and the contents inside these exosomes.

The Next step…

This depends on my results. If I do find a connection, the experiment needs to be replicated to stabilise that there is actually a connection. Then further experiments are needed to determine how the CML cells are to be treated to avoid the resistance. If no connection is found, there needs to be further testing to determine the mechanism behind imatinib resistance.

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