While the outcome for pediatric patients with lymphoproliferative disorders (LPD) or lymphoid malignancies, such as acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL), has improved dramatically, patients often suffer from therapeutic sequelae. Additionally, despite intensified treatment, the prognosis remains dismal for patients with refractory or relapsed disease. Thus, novel biologically targeted treatment approaches are needed. These targets can be identified by understanding how a loss of lymphocyte homeostasis can result in LPD or ALL. Herein, we review potential molecular and cellular therapeutic strategies that (i) target key signaling networks (e.g., PI3K/AKT/mTOR, JAK/STAT, Notch1, and SRC kinase family-containing pathways) which regulate lymphocyte growth, survival, and function; (ii) block the interaction of ALL cells with stromal cells or lymphoid growth factors secreted by the bone marrow microenvironment; or (iii) stimulate innate and adaptive immune responses.
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