Study Shows Why Leukemia Returns in Some Children
News Feb 28, 2013
The researchers found that about 20 percent of children with T-cell acute lymphoblastic leukemia (T-ALL) who experience a relapse harbor mutations that activate NT5C2, an enzyme that inactivates an important chemotherapy drug, 6-mercaptopurine (6-MP).
The discovery may soon lead to improved treatment for patients. “The most immediate thing to do now is to develop diagnostic tools,” said Ferrando, professor of Pediatrics and of Pathology & Cell Biology in the Herbert Irving Comprehensive Cancer Center.
“With diagnostic tools, we could monitor for this mutation and if we see it, these patients should probably receive a different drug.”
About one in five children with T-ALL will suffer a relapse, and despite intensive chemotherapy, most of these children will die from the disease.
Based on his findings, Ferrando said relapsed patients with the mutated enzyme could be switched to a new drug, nelarabine, that’s very similar to 6-MP. The researchers found that even though the two drugs act similarly, they are different chemically, and nelarabine is not affected by the mutated enzyme.
Full findings of the research were published Feb. 3 in Nature Medicine.
The mutated enzyme also was discovered independently in a New York University study of patients with the B-cell form of ALL.
In a New York Genome Center article about both studies, the leader of the NYU study, William Carroll, MD, said
“I think for those of us who treat leukemia, it is a really dramatic finding. Access to [patient] samples and new next-generation sequencing [give us a way] to really understand the blueprint of relapse and to develop specific therapies. We can individualize treatment.”
Drug Transport Gene May Explain Why Ovarian Cancer Patients React Differently to ChemotherapyNews
A gene which produces a protein that transports drugs in and out of cells may explain why some women treated with chemo have serious side effects.READ MORE
DETECTR Sniffs Out DNA Signals Using CRISPR-Cas9's CousinNews
A new technology allows amplification and detection of genomic snippets present in a sample, using the enzyme Cas12.READ MORE
Induced Pluripotent Stem Cells Could Serve as Cancer VaccineNews
Induced pluripotent stem cells, or iPS cells, are a keystone of regenerative medicine. Outside the body, they can be coaxed to become many different types of cells and tissues that can help repair damage due to trauma or disease. Now, a study in mice suggests another use for iPS cells: training the immune system to attack or even prevent tumors.READ MORE