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Genetic profiling can help doctors more accurately predict prognosis and guide treatment decisions for leukemia patients
Date:3/14/2012

NEW YORK, MARCH 14, 2012 Researchers have identified a set of genetic abnormalities in patients with acute myelogenous leukemia (AML) that doctors can use to more accurately predict patients' prognoses and select treatments that are most likely to benefit them. The study, led by investigators at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, will be published in the March 22 issue of the New England Journal of Medicine.

"Our study shows that genetic profiling makes it possible to more precisely categorize which patients are most likely to have their leukemia return after treatment," says the study's lead author Ross Levine, MD, a member of Memorial Sloan-Kettering's Human Oncology Pathogenesis Program. "We also want to use existing therapies more intelligently. It helps a great deal to know which subset of patients will actually benefit from intensive therapies, such as a higher dose of chemotherapy or a bone marrow transplant," adds Dr. Levine, who is also a medical oncologist on the Leukemia Service at Memorial Sloan-Kettering.

At present, clinicians rely on only a handful of known genetic biomarkers (early markers of disease) to predict outcome in leukemia patients, and these biomarkers provide useful information for only a subset of patients. For most people diagnosed with AML, it is difficult to predict the chance for a cure.

The method used in the study incorporates information from an array of genes and allows nearly two-thirds of patients to be categorized into clearly defined prognostic groups. "Our goal was not to ask whether a certain gene or two raised or lowered risk, but to determine whether a combination of characteristics from a set of genes made it possible to precisely stratify patients according to risk," Dr. Levine says.

The researchers analyzed blood or bone marrow samples from 502 patients with AML who were participating in a clinical trial. Such samples are routinely taken for research purposes during
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Contact: Esther Napolitano
napolite@mskcc.org
212-639-3573
Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center
Source:Eurekalert

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