Ali Farrokhi

Postdoctoral Fellow


Understanding how Childhood Infection-Induced Immune Response Can Target Leukemia-initiating Cells

Each year, a particular type of blood cancer called acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL) accounts for one-quarter of the cases of childhood cancer diagnosed in Canada. Children between 3 and 5 years of age are most commonly affected by ALL. Despite significant improvement in patient outcomes with chemotherapy, not all children are cured and ALL still causes 10% of childhood cancer deaths. 

It has been discovered that the abnormal cells, known as preleukemia cells, that cause leukemia in children are present in most newborns that go on to develop ALL and also in many who do not. Understanding what stops leukemia arising in these healthy children with preleukemia may provide clues of how to eradicate the leukemia cells that remain in some patients after chemotherapy. 

A number of studies have reported a link between infections in infancy and risk of getting childhood ALL . We speculated that this might be the result of the effects of the immune responses to infection on the preleukemia cells and have studied this using mice that develop ALL. We have found that the immune responses can very efficiently kill preleukemia and leukemia cells, but only when the infection occurs in very young mice. We seek to identify the mechanism behind this protective response with the goal of developing a new treatment for ALL in children. 



Research Classification

Research Interests

pediatric cancer
Tissue Engineering
Wound Healing

Research Centres, Clusters, Institutes

Research Options

I am available and interested in collaborations (e.g. clusters, grants).
I am interested in and conduct interdisciplinary research.
I am interested in working with undergraduate students on research projects.



If this is your researcher profile you can log in to the Faculty & Staff portal to update your details.