PULLMAN, Wash. – Identifying which genes are involved in a group of diseases that are precursors to leukemia is the focus of a new research project in the College of Pharmacy at Washington State University.
“The goal is to improve our understanding of the disease process and identify new targets for drug development,” said Grant Trobridge, assistant professor of pharmaceutical science.

Funded by a $545,036 grant from the U.S. Department of Defense, Trobridge and his colleagues are looking for the genes involved in myelodysplastic syndromes, a diverse collection of blood-related conditions in which the body’s blood production is disorderly and ineffective. If not treated successfully, the diseases can lead to acute myeloid leukemia, Trobridge said.

The researchers are using a retroviral mutagenesis screen – meaning using a virus containing RNA to look for abnormal genes – which is not new. But they are using a different type of retrovirus than has been used previously, and Trobridge expects it could be more efficient.

This is a new area of research for his lab. The project is funded for three years and has just begun. (Sept. 11, 2011)