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Research sheds new light on mechanisms of T-ALL, a form of leukemia that primarily affects children
Date:12/23/2012

Acute lymphatic leukemia (ALL) is the most common cancer in children under the age of 14 years. With optimum treatment, approximately 75 % of children are currently cured, but the treatment consists of severe chemotherapy with many side effects. In collaboration with international research teams, scientists at VIB, KU Leuven and UZ Leuven have identified new genetic mutations that lead to T-ALL, a variant of ALL. They have unmasked the ribosome the molecular machine in the cell that is involved in the production of proteins as a weak spot in leukemia cells. Their research has also shown that there is a difference in T-ALL between adults and children. Both findings can be important in the search for improved treatments for T-ALL.

Jan Cools (VIB/KU Leuven):"We have discovered that there is a clear genetic difference between T-ALL in children and in adults. This could be an explanation why adults do not respond as well to the current therapy."

Stein Aerts (KU Leuven):"This is a beautiful example of the power of genome sequencing in cancer research. New technologies and large-scale bio-informatics allow us to study a lot of data simultaneously. This allows us to discover links that would have been impossible to find in the past."

T-cell acute lymphatic leukemia (T-ALL)

The formation of white blood cells is disrupted by leukemia. The cells in the bone marrow that should mature into white blood cells multiply unchecked without maturing completely. These immature blood cells compromise the production of normal blood cells. This makes patients more susceptible to infections. Leukemia occurs in different forms; in the case of T-ALL, there is an accumulation of immature white blood cells over a very short period of time. With optimum treatment involving chemotherapy approximately 75 % of children are currently cured. For adults, the chance of a cure is below 50 %. Chemotherapy is associated with many side effects. The search for
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Contact: Kris Van der Beken
kris.vanderbeken@vib.be
32-473-783-435
VIB (the Flanders Institute for Biotechnology)
Source:Eurekalert

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