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St. Jude projects 90 percent cure rate for ALL

hildren is especially significant in the case of African-American children, Pui noted. They still have poor outcomes in national studies, but studies at St. Jude have shown African-American children have the same high cure rates as white children when given access to the same effective treatments.

"This reflects the ability of St. Jude to provide free treatment to all children regardless of their ethnic or racial backgrounds or their ability to pay; and to tailor the treatment according to their specific needs," Pui said. "The significant leadership role St. Jude played is due entirely to the enormous contributions made by our extraordinary team of doctors, pharmacists, nurses, and other clinicians and scientists over the years," said William E. Evans, Pharm.D., director and chief executive officer of St. Jude and the paper's co-author. "Their efforts are directly responsible for helping to push up the cure rate for ALL.

"Thanks to their work and the work of other institutions, we can now identify factors putting patients at high risk; and that has enabled us to determine whether treatment failure is due to resistance of leukemic cells to drugs, or merely due to the use of inadequate doses of those agents," Evans said. "By having the tools to precisely assess the risk of relapse in a specific patient, we can design the most effective treatments possible at the start of therapy. That's a key element of our success in raising the cure rate for ALL while limiting toxic effects of therapy."

That success is based to a large extent on the work done at St. Jude and elsewhere in identifying specific mutations in leukemic cells that strongly suggest the likelihood that treatment will fail the child, the authors reported. For example, a chromosomal abnormality called the TEL-AML1 fusion gene, which is an abnormal combination of two separate genes, confers a relatively favorable outlook for patients with this form of ALL. But patients whose leukemic cel
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Source:St. Jude Children's Research Hospital


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