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Targeting the Microenvironment in MDS: The Final Frontier

Journal Title: 
Frontiers in Pharmacology
Primary Author: 
Patric Teodorescu
Patric Teodorescu, Sergiu Pasca, Delia Dima, Ciprian Tomuleasa, Gabriel Ghiaur
Original Publication Date: 
Thursday, July 9, 2020
Bone Marrow Disease(s): 

Myelodysplastic syndromes (MDS) are a heterogeneous group of malignant disorders of hematopoietic stem and progenitor cells (HSPC), mainly characterized by ineffective hematopoiesis leading to peripheral cytopenias and progressive bone marrow failure. While clonal dominance is nearly universal at diagnosis, most genetic mutations identified in patients with MDS do not provide a conspicuous advantage to the malignant cells. In this context, malignant cells alter their adjacent bone marrow microenvironment (BME) and rely on cell extrinsic factors to maintain clonal dominance. The profoundly disturbed BME favors the myelodysplastic cells and, most importantly is detrimental to normal hematopoietic cells. Thus, the MDS microenvironment not only contributes to the observed cytopenias seen in these patients but could also negatively impact the engraftment of normal, allogeneic HSPCs in patients with MDS undergoing bone marrow transplant. Therefore, successful therapies in MDS should not only target the malignant cells but also reprogram their bone marrow microenvironment. Here, we will provide a synopsis of how drugs currently used or on the verge of being approved for the treatment of MDS may achieve this goal.