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hiPSC-derived bone marrow milieu identifies a clinically actionable driver of niche-mediated treatment resistance in leukemia

Lookup NU author(s): Dr Deepali Pal, Dr Helen Blair, Sean Hockney, Dr Melanie Beckett, Mankaran Singh, Ryan Nelson, Hesta McNeill, Sharon Angel, Aaron Wilson, Salem Nizami, Dr Sirintra Nakjang, Dr Peixun Zhou, Claire Schwab, Dr Paul Sinclair, Dr Lisa Russell, Dr Jonathan Coxhead, Professor James Allan, Professor Christine Harrison FRCPath FMedSci, Professor Anthony MoormanORCiD, Professor Olaf Heidenreich



This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (CC BY 4.0).


© 2022 The Author(s)Leukemia cells re-program their microenvironment to augment blast proliferation and enhance treatment resistance. Means of clinically targeting such niche-driven treatment resistance remain ambiguous. We develop human induced pluripotent stem cell (hiPSC)-engineered niches to reveal druggable cancer-niche dependencies. We reveal that mesenchymal (iMSC) and vascular niche-like (iANG) hiPSC-derived cells support ex vivo proliferation of patient-derived leukemia cells, affect dormancy, and mediate treatment resistance. iMSCs protect dormant and cycling blasts against dexamethasone, while iANGs protect only dormant blasts. Leukemia proliferation and protection from dexamethasone-induced apoptosis is dependent on cancer-niche interactions mediated by CDH2. Consequently, we test CDH2 antagonist ADH-1 (previously in Phase I/II trials for solid tumors) in a very aggressive patient-derived xenograft leukemia mouse model. ADH-1 shows high in vivo efficacy; ADH-1/dexamethasone combination is superior to dexamethasone alone, with no ADH-1-conferred additional toxicity. These findings provide a proof-of-concept starting point to develop improved, potentially safer therapeutics targeting niche-mediated cancer dependencies in blood cancers.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Pal D, Blair H, Parker J, Hockney S, Beckett M, Singh M, Tirtakusuma R, Nelson R, McNeill H, Angel SH, Wilson A, Nizami S, Nakjang S, Zhou P, Schwab C, Sinclair P, Russell LJ, Coxhead J, Halsey C, Allan JM, Harrison CJ, Moorman AV, Heidenreich O, Vormoor J

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: Cell Reports Medicine

Year: 2022

Volume: 3

Issue: 8

Online publication date: 16/08/2022

Acceptance date: 19/07/2022

Date deposited: 02/09/2022

ISSN (electronic): 2666-3791

Publisher: Cell Press


DOI: 10.1016/j.xcrm.2022.100717

PubMed id: 35977468


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Funder referenceFunder name
Blood Cancer UK (grant no. 15036 )
CCLGA 2016 05 BH160568
NC/P002412/1National Centre for the Replacement, Refinement and Reduction of Animals NC3R