Myelodysplastic syndromes (MDSs) arise from a defective hematopoietic stem/progenitor cell. Consequently, there is an urgent need to develop targeted therapies capable of eliminating the MDS-initiating clones. We identified that IRAK1, an immune-modulating kinase, is overexpressed and hyperactivated in MDSs. MDS clones treated with a small molecule IRAK1 inhibitor (IRAK1/4-Inh) exhibited impaired expansion and increased apoptosis, which coincided with TRAF6/NF-κB inhibition. Suppression of IRAK1, either by RNAi or with IRAK1/4-Inh, is detrimental to MDS cells, while sparing normal CD34(+) cells. Based on an integrative gene expression analysis, we combined IRAK1 and BCL2 inhibitors and found that cotreatment more effectively eliminated MDS clones. In summary, these findings implicate IRAK1 as a drugable target in MDSs.
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