Leukemia is a cancer of the blood or bone marrow characterized by an abnormal proliferation of blood cells, usually white blood cells (leukocytes). It is part of the broad group of diseases called hematological neoplasms. According to the American Cancer Society, in 1992 the eighth leading cause of cancer death among Native Americans in the United States was leukemia.

Human T-lymphotropic virus (HTLV) is a human, single-stranded RNA retrovirus that causes T-cell leukemia and T-cell lymphoma.

Lymphoma is the fifth most common cancer in the United States and represents over forty subtypes of cancers arising within the lymphatic system.There are four kinds of human T-cell leukemia virus: HTLV-I, HTLV-II, HTLV III and IV. We are interested in HTLV-I which is an abbreviation for the human T-cell leukemia virus type 1, also called the human T-cell lymphotrophic virus type 1, a virus that has been seriously implicated in several kinds of diseases including HTLV-I-associated myelopathy. HTLV has infected 15 to 20 million people worldwide. Human T lymphotropic virus type 1 (HTLV1) was the first human retrovirus to be discovered and is endemic in certain areas (especially SW Japan, the Caribbean and parts of Africa and South America) where up to 10% or more of the population may be infected.

In our research, we focus on drug discovery with using HTLV-1 enzyme. We are doing transformation of DNA which we received from Dr. Alexander Wlodawer from NIH , protein expression, protein purification methods like gel filtration, ionic exchange chromatography and ext., enzyme kinetics and characterization.

The students who are interested in ths project may learn
- basic techniques such as transforamation, site directed mutagenesis, etc
- protein expression, refolding and purification
- kinetic analysis.

Students working on this project:
- Ahu Demir - graduate student
- Carol Noda - undergraduate student