Leukemia is the most common childhood cancer; it also occurs in adults. Now researchers working with zebrafish at Huntsman Cancer Institute (HCI) at the University of Utah have identified previously undiscovered high-risk genetic features in T-cell acute lymphocytic leukemia (T-ALL), according to an article published online May 9, 2011, in the cancer research journal Oncogene. When compared to samples from human patients with T-ALL, these genetic characteristics allowed scientists to predict which patients may have more aggressive forms of the disease that either recur after remission or do not respond to treatment.
While there are several subtypes, in all leukemias the body overproduces certain blood cells that have not matured properly. In this study, the researchers investigated a particular type of leukemia that results from genetic mutations in T-cells, a type of white blood cell found in both humans and zebrafish.
Using a technique called serial transplantation, the research team studied T-ALL in zebrafish and selected cancer cells from those in which the disease advanced more rapidly for further testing. This method allowed the research team to zero in on genes associated with T-ALL's most aggressive forms. They then compared these genetic features to samples from human patients whose clinical outcomes with T-ALL are known.
"We can cure 80% of the children who come to us with leukemia, but there are 20 percent we cannot cure. Sometime the cures come at a high cost to patients in immediate and delayed side effects from chemotherapy," said Nikolaus Trede, M.D., Ph.D., associate professor in the Department of Pediatrics at the University of Utah (U of U) School of Medicine, HCI investigator, and a senior author of the article. "These results may lead to tests that can show which children with the disease need the strongest chemotherapy to overcome their cancer. Children with less aggressive forms of leukemia can be cured with milder chemotherapy that produces fewer side effects, both during treatment and long after treatment is complete."
Kimble Frazer, M.D., Ph.D., assistant professor of pediatrics at the U of U and a member of the Trede Lab, is co-senior author of the article. "One of the genes identified in the study had not previously been recognized as important in T-ALL," said Frazer. "Another gene, associated with patients whose outcomes were least favorable, has not received enough research attention to even have an official name. It only has an 'address' that tells its location on a specific chromosome."
The researchers stress that their results are still preliminary. They plan further laboratory studies to bolster the case that this unnamed gene with the address C7orf60 is important in the development of T-ALL. Additional zebrafish experiments that focus on this gene could be designed to amplify its effects and confirm its contribution to creating more, or hardier, leukemia. In the end, the research could lead to a test that would allow doctors to determine the best course of treatment for an individual leukemia patient by analyzing a blood sample.
Both Trede and Frazer credit the article's first-listed author, Lynnie Rudner, with much of the work leading to the published results. Rudner is the recipient of the American Medical Association (AMA) Foundation's Seed Grant, one of only 38 individuals nationwide who received a seed grant in 2010, and a student in the U of U's M.D./Ph.D. program, which produces graduates qualified in both clinical practice and laboratory research.
Other co-authors include researchers from Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston, Massachusetts, University of Texas at Brownsville, Dana-Farber Cancer Institute and Children's Hospital Boston, and St. Jude Children's Research Hospital in Memphis, Tenn.
This work was supported by funding from the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health & Human Development, the American Medical Association, Huntsman Cancer Foundation, the Children's Health Research Center at the University of Utah, and Huntsman Cancer Institute core facilities.
The mission of Huntsman Cancer Institute (HCI) at The University of Utah is to understand cancer from its beginnings, to use that knowledge in the creation and improvement of cancer treatments, to relieve the suffering of cancer patients, and to provide education about cancer risk, prevention, and care. HCI is a National Cancer Institute-designated cancer center, which means that it meets the highest national standards for cancer care and research and receives support for its scientific endeavors. HCI is also a member of the National Comprehensive Cancer Network (NCCN) a not-for-profit alliance of the world's leading cancer centers, which is dedicated to improving the quality and effectiveness of care provided to patients with cancer. For more information about HCI, please visit www.huntsmancancer.org.
Linda Aagard | EurekAlert!
127 at one blow...
18.01.2017 | Stiftung Zoologisches Forschungsmuseum Alexander Koenig, Leibniz-Institut für Biodiversität der Tiere
How gut bacteria can make us ill
18.01.2017 | Helmholtz-Zentrum für Infektionsforschung
Yersiniae cause severe intestinal infections. Studies using Yersinia pseudotuberculosis as a model organism aim to elucidate the infection mechanisms of these...
Researchers from the University of Hamburg in Germany, in collaboration with colleagues from the University of Aarhus in Denmark, have synthesized a new superconducting material by growing a few layers of an antiferromagnetic transition-metal chalcogenide on a bismuth-based topological insulator, both being non-superconducting materials.
While superconductivity and magnetism are generally believed to be mutually exclusive, surprisingly, in this new material, superconducting correlations...
Laser-driving of semimetals allows creating novel quasiparticle states within condensed matter systems and switching between different states on ultrafast time scales
Studying properties of fundamental particles in condensed matter systems is a promising approach to quantum field theory. Quasiparticles offer the opportunity...
Among the general public, solar thermal energy is currently associated with dark blue, rectangular collectors on building roofs. Technologies are needed for aesthetically high quality architecture which offer the architect more room for manoeuvre when it comes to low- and plus-energy buildings. With the “ArKol” project, researchers at Fraunhofer ISE together with partners are currently developing two façade collectors for solar thermal energy generation, which permit a high degree of design flexibility: a strip collector for opaque façade sections and a solar thermal blind for transparent sections. The current state of the two developments will be presented at the BAU 2017 trade fair.
As part of the “ArKol – development of architecturally highly integrated façade collectors with heat pipes” project, Fraunhofer ISE together with its partners...
At TU Wien, an alternative for resource intensive formwork for the construction of concrete domes was developed. It is now used in a test dome for the Austrian Federal Railways Infrastructure (ÖBB Infrastruktur).
Concrete shells are efficient structures, but not very resource efficient. The formwork for the construction of concrete domes alone requires a high amount of...
10.01.2017 | Event News
09.01.2017 | Event News
05.01.2017 | Event News
18.01.2017 | Life Sciences
18.01.2017 | Health and Medicine
17.01.2017 | Earth Sciences