Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Molecular analyses of leukemia patients suggest strategies for better treatments

08.04.2004


Review article from St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital in New England Journal of Medicine



The cure rate for pediatric acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL) might continue to rise with improved use of conventional therapies. But even more effective and less toxic therapies based on genetic and pharmacogenetic studies might one day push the success rate close to 100 percent, according to an article published by investigators at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital in the April 8 issue of the New England Journal of Medicine.

The St. Jude researchers base their prediction on their review of the current and evolving state of ALL diagnosis and treatment. ALL is a cancer in which an excess number of immature and non-functional white blood cells overwhelm the body’s ability to make normal blood cells in the bone marrow. It is the most common type of cancer in children, with about 3,000 new cases each year in the United States alone. The survival has rate increased from 4 percent--when St. Jude opened in 1962--to 80 percent today, following the development of protocol-based treatment at St. Jude that combined different anti-ALL drugs and revolutionized the treatment of ALL.


"The substantial progress in ALL treatment being made today at St. Jude and other institutions reflects not only a more effective use of combining traditional anti-leukemic drugs, but also significant breakthroughs in genetic studies of ALL patients," said Ching-Hon Pui, M.D., director of the St. Jude Leukemia Lymphoma division and the F.M. Kirby Clinical Research Professor for the American Cancer Society.

A key advantage to the genetic approach to ALL treatment is the increasing ability of physicians to identify which gene mutations are linked to increased or decreased responsiveness to anti-leukemic drugs. This information is helping researchers to identify children who have particularly drug-resistant forms of ALL, as well as patients who are more susceptible to the toxicities of specific treatments. The new approach is also guiding development of new drugs that target specific cell molecules, thus avoiding the toxic side effects caused by chemotherapy.

Clinical trials are underway to test the safety and efficacy of drugs targeting a variety of gene mutations. In addition, St. Jude researchers are conducting Phase I clinical trials with investigational drugs to treat cases of ALL that have resisted previous therapies.

Fueling this surge of genetic studies of ALL is the use of DNA microarrays, a technology that permits researchers to analyze simultaneously the expression of thousands of genes. This technology accurately identifies known variations of ALL and provides key insights into their biology and their responses to therapy.

Microarray studies are disclosing the genes making up specific biochemical events leading to ALL, as well as the changes in gene expression caused by specific treatments. When validated by clinical trials, such information will enable physicians to predict with great accuracy how a specific patient will respond to a particular treatment, and to design treatments that will be the most effective but least toxic.

Breakthroughs in genetic analysis of ALL have also provided evidence that some cases of ALL might be due, in part, to a developmental error or exposure of the fetus to mutagens--chemicals that cause gene mutations. The recognition that environmental factors might play a role in the development of ALL has prompted large-scale epidemiological studies in the United States and Britain to determine the affect, if any, exposure to chemicals, viruses, bacteria or ionizing radiation.

The authors conclude that genetic studies of leukemic cells will disclose the mechanism of ALL development and lead to the identification of targets for specific treatments. Studies of genes involved in the metabolism and the effects of chemotherapy and environmental agents will also help develop optimal treatment, and may even provide important clues for the cause of leukemia. Together, these advances might one day permit physicians to cure all patients, regardless of the type of ALL they have, and might even lead to ways to prevent this disease.


Other authors of this review are Mary Relling, Pharm.D., and James Downing, M.D.

Bonnie Cameron | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.stjude.org

More articles from Health and Medicine:

nachricht One gene closer to regenerative therapy for muscular disorders
01.06.2017 | Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center

nachricht The gut microbiota plays a key role in treatment with classic diabetes medication
01.06.2017 | University of Gothenburg

All articles from Health and Medicine >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Climate satellite: Tracking methane with robust laser technology

Heatwaves in the Arctic, longer periods of vegetation in Europe, severe floods in West Africa – starting in 2021, scientists want to explore the emissions of the greenhouse gas methane with the German-French satellite MERLIN. This is made possible by a new robust laser system of the Fraunhofer Institute for Laser Technology ILT in Aachen, which achieves unprecedented measurement accuracy.

Methane is primarily the result of the decomposition of organic matter. The gas has a 25 times greater warming potential than carbon dioxide, but is not as...

Im Focus: How protons move through a fuel cell

Hydrogen is regarded as the energy source of the future: It is produced with solar power and can be used to generate heat and electricity in fuel cells. Empa researchers have now succeeded in decoding the movement of hydrogen ions in crystals – a key step towards more efficient energy conversion in the hydrogen industry of tomorrow.

As charge carriers, electrons and ions play the leading role in electrochemical energy storage devices and converters such as batteries and fuel cells. Proton...

Im Focus: A unique data centre for cosmological simulations

Scientists from the Excellence Cluster Universe at the Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität Munich have establised "Cosmowebportal", a unique data centre for cosmological simulations located at the Leibniz Supercomputing Centre (LRZ) of the Bavarian Academy of Sciences. The complete results of a series of large hydrodynamical cosmological simulations are available, with data volumes typically exceeding several hundred terabytes. Scientists worldwide can interactively explore these complex simulations via a web interface and directly access the results.

With current telescopes, scientists can observe our Universe’s galaxies and galaxy clusters and their distribution along an invisible cosmic web. From the...

Im Focus: Scientists develop molecular thermometer for contactless measurement using infrared light

Temperature measurements possible even on the smallest scale / Molecular ruby for use in material sciences, biology, and medicine

Chemists at Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz (JGU) in cooperation with researchers of the German Federal Institute for Materials Research and Testing (BAM)...

Im Focus: Optoelectronic Inline Measurement – Accurate to the Nanometer

Germany counts high-precision manufacturing processes among its advantages as a location. It’s not just the aerospace and automotive industries that require almost waste-free, high-precision manufacturing to provide an efficient way of testing the shape and orientation tolerances of products. Since current inline measurement technology not yet provides the required accuracy, the Fraunhofer Institute for Laser Technology ILT is collaborating with four renowned industry partners in the INSPIRE project to develop inline sensors with a new accuracy class. Funded by the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF), the project is scheduled to run until the end of 2019.

New Manufacturing Technologies for New Products

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Plants are networkers

19.06.2017 | Event News

Digital Survival Training for Executives

13.06.2017 | Event News

Global Learning Council Summit 2017

13.06.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

A new technique isolates neuronal activity during memory consolidation

22.06.2017 | Life Sciences

Plant inspiration could lead to flexible electronics

22.06.2017 | Materials Sciences

A rhodium-based catalyst for making organosilicon using less precious metal

22.06.2017 | Materials Sciences

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>