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Native American ancestry linked to greater risk of relapse in young leukemia patients
Date:2/6/2011

apse. The PDE4B variants were also linked with reduced sensitivity to glucocorticoids, medications that play a key role in ALL treatment. "This is just one example of how ancestry could affect relapse risk," said the study's senior author Mary Relling, Pharm.D., St. Jude Pharmaceutical Sciences chair. "It is likely that many other genes are involved."

Investigators also found ALL patients with greater Native American ancestry who received additional chemotherapy as part of a COG clinical trial benefited more from the extra treatment than other children. "These are important steps on the way to personalized cancer care, whereby treatment can be tailored to provide maximal benefit to patient subgroups, and someday, individual patients," said co-author Stephen Hunger, M.D., University of Colorado professor of pediatrics and chair of COG's ALL committee.

For this study, scientists used a library of 444,044 common genetic variations known as single nucleotide polymorphisms, or SNPs, to search each patient's DNA for evidence linking ancestry and relapse. The study found that cancer was 59 percent more likely to return in patients whose genetic makeup reflected at least 10 percent Native American ancestry.

About 25 percent of patients in this study met the 10 percent threshold. The percentage was highest among the self-reported Hispanic and Native American patients, who have been reported to be at higher risk of relapse.

Native American ancestry identified patients at high risk of relapse missed by current clinical tools, including testing for minimal residual disease (MRD), which measures the cancer cells that survive the initial round of therapy. Relling said additional research is needed to confirm the findings before screening becomes part of clinical care.

This study used advances in high throughput genomic technologies to better understand why cancer treatment sometimes fails and how the failure is related to genetic an
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Contact: Summer Freeman
summer.freeman@stjude.org
901-297-9861
St. Jude Children's Research Hospital
Source:Eurekalert

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