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Microenvironment a main driver of aggressive multi-lineage leukemia disease type
Date:6/9/2008

CINCINNATI Research led by scientists at Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center has revealed new clues into what causes different types of a particularly aggressive group of blood cancers known as mixed lineage leukemias (MLL) and how the disease might be treated, according to a study in the June 9 issue of Cancer Cell.

"We document early biological processes where human leukemia stem cells can be altered to form a particular type, or lineage, of leukemia by the factors they are exposed to in the microenvironment of blood-forming tissues," said James Mulloy, Ph.D., a researcher in the division of Experimental Hematology/Cancer Biology at Cincinnati Children's and the study's corresponding author. "These new details about molecular events associated with MLL, and the new mouse model we developed for the study, will allow testing of novel therapeutic strategies for MLL patients. They will also yield information that may be directly translatable into clinical interventions."

Leukemia is the most common blood cancer and includes several diseases, according to the National Cancer Institute. The four major types are acute myeloid leukemia (AML), acute lymphoid leukemia (ALL), chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL) and chronic myelogenous leukemia (CML).

Mixed lineage leukemia (MLL) results when chromosome mutations involving the MLL gene fuse with certain partner genes. These so-called translocations result in the MLL gene being rearranged to send instructions to create either AML or ALL. This process can start before birth, and while MLL translocations are associated with 7 percent of AML cases and 10 percent of ALL cases, they are found in a majority of infants with acute leukemia. In some instances the clinical disease is diagnosed within a few months of birth.

Dr. Mulloy and his colleagues discovered that disrupting a protein known to regulate cell growth (Rac1) has potential for curbing MLL. The discovery came about a
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Contact: Nick Miller
nicholas.miller@cchmc.org
513-803-6035
Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center
Source:Eurekalert

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