Study of leukemia patient's DNA may lead to routine gene scans, experts say
WEDNESDAY, Nov. 5 (HealthDay News) -- In a genetics first, researchers report that they have decoded the complete DNA sequence of a person with acute myelogenous leukemia.
There were some surprises -- eight previously unknown mutations, along with two already identified genetic alterations, were associated with the blood cell cancer.
But more importantly, it is now possible to detect individual genetic differences for each case of cancer, said study senior author Richard K. Wilson, director of the Washington University Genome Sequencing Center, in St. Louis.
"We found mutations in genes that make a lot of sense when normal cells become cancer cells," Wilson explained. "That they seem to be fairly unique to this particular patient says on the one hand that this is a complicated disease. But the complications validate our approach -- we have to look at a number of patients to see not only what is different but what they have in common."
The feat brings the routine use of genomic screens for cancer patients a little closer, one expert said.
"Technically, this is a great achievement," added Richard Gibbs, director of the Human Genome Sequencing Center at Baylor College of Medicine, in Houston. "This really is a new era, based on genome studies. There is real clinical applicability, and that is what's remarkable about it."
The findings were reported in the Nov. 6 issue of Nature.
The Washington University center has already started genetic sequencing of a second person with acute myelogenous leukemia (AML), which Wilson said was chosen in part because "it is a cancer type that is extremely aggressive, with no good cure. We have seen some pretty good treatments for other cancers, but this one lags behind."
"The second [patient genome] is already in progress," he said, adding that the exami
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