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University of British Columbia

Myelodysplastic syndromes (MDS) are cancers of the blood-forming cells in the bone marrow. Patients with MDS have worse survival than similar patients with lung cancer because the disease either results in the failure to provide enough blood cells to sustain life, or it progresses to very aggressive leukemia. There are few treatments available for MDS, but one drug called 5-azacytidine is able to prolong life in about half the patients treated. This project is designed to study the rare cancer stem cells from which all the other cancer cells arise, because these cells are quite resistant to 5-azacytidine. We will analyze single MDS stem cells to understand why only half of the patients treated respond to 5-azacytidine.