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Molecular change may reveal risk of leukemia relapse
Date:4/30/2008

COLUMBUS, Ohio Researchers may have discovered a better way to distinguish acute leukemia patients who require aggressive treatment to prevent recurrence from those who need only standard therapy for cure.

The study is published in the May 1 issue of the New England Journal of Medicine with an accompanying editorial.

Researchers say that changes in levels of microRNAs, tiny molecules used by cells to help control the kinds and amount of proteins they make, might predict the risk of relapse in many adults diagnosed with acute myeloid leukemia (AML). All patients in the study had leukemia cells with normal-looking chromosomes.

The research also shows that the microRNAs involved in these AML patients regulate genes involved in inflammation and immune responses, providing new insights into possible causes of the disease.

The study was led by researchers at the Ohio State University Comprehensive Cancer Center.

This is the first evidence linking changes in levels of microRNAs with the outcome of AML patients who lack the chromosome abnormalities that we commonly use to predict the cure or relapse of the disease, says study co-leader Dr. Guido Marcucci, associate professor of medicine at Ohio States Comprehensive Cancer Center. It provides a new tool for a personalized approach to the diagnosis and treatment of cancer.

The study also points to the possible role played by abnormally triggered mechanisms of inflammation in the transformation of normal cells into AML cells, Marcucci notes. In the future, we may find it possible to make leukemia cells more sensitive to therapy by replacing microRNAs that are too low or decreasing those that are too high.

If validated in a large prospective study, these findings could improve our ability to predict individual patient outcomes and identify the most effective therapy, and lead to new targeted therapies for leukemia, says study leader Dr. Clara D. Bloomfield, an international AML authority
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Contact: Darrell E. Ward
darrell.ward@osumc.edu
614-293-3737
Ohio State University Medical Center
Source:Eurekalert

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