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New biomarker may predict leukemia aggressiveness
Date:4/19/2009

Scientists at the University of California, San Diego and the Moores UCSD Cancer Center have evidence of a potential new biomarker to predict the aggressiveness of an often difficult-to-treat form of leukemia. They found that high levels of a particular enzyme in the blood are an indicator that chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL) the most common form of adult leukemia will be aggressive and in need of immediate treatment.

The researchers, led by Paul A. Insel, MD, professor of pharmacology and medicine at the UC San Diego School of Medicine, say that the enzyme, PDE7B, is also critical to the development of CLL and a potential target for drugs against the disease. They present their results April 19, 2009 at the AACR 100th Annual Meeting 2009 in Denver.

One of the problems in deciding on the right therapy for CLL is that it is difficult to know which type of leukemia a patient has. One form progresses slowly, with few symptoms for years while the other form is more aggressive and dangerous. While tests exist and are commonly used to help doctors predict which form a patient may have, their availability and usefulness are limited.

In previous work, Insel's group had discovered that among a group of enzymes, cyclic nucleotide phosphodiesterases, one of the phosphodiesterases, PDE7B, was 10 times higher in CLL patients than in healthy individuals. PDE7B controls the levels of cyclic AMP (cAMP), a molecule that can promote programmed cell death, a process that is defective in CLL. Whereas most cancers have out-of-control cell growth, CLL is characterized by an overabundance of white blood cells that do not die when they should. High levels of PDE7B mean less cAMP and as a result, less cell death.

"The question was, could the level of PDE7B expression provide evidence for the clinical stage and diagnosis for individual patients?" Insel said. To find out if changes in PDE7B levels might reflect disease progression, Insel, postod
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Contact: Steve Benowitz
sbenowitz@ucsd.edu
619-543-6163
University of California - San Diego
Source:Eurekalert

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