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St. Jude finds more than 100 gene variations linked with response to leukemia treatment
Date:1/27/2009

Scientists from St. Jude Children's Research Hospital and the Children's Oncology Group (COG) have discovered in children with acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL) scores of inherited genetic variations that clinicians might be able to use as guideposts for designing more effective chemotherapy for this cancer.

The findings are important because although cure rates for ALL exceed 80 percent, patient responses vary significantly to the same drugs. Much of this variance has been unexplained. The newly discovered genetic variations, however, will likely give scientists a clearer understanding of why treatments fail in some patients with ALL, and how to predict early in treatment which children could be successfully treated with less aggressive treatment.

"This study differs from most previous investigations of gene variations linked to chemotherapy outcome because those studies focused only on the genes of the leukemic cells themselves," said Mary Relling, Pharm.D., St. Jude Pharmaceutical Sciences chair. "We focused on genomic variation that is inherited and affects all cells in the body, not just the leukemic cells." Relling is the senior author of a report on the team's study that appears in the January 28, 2009, issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association.

In their research, St. Jude scientists collaborated with a team from COG, a worldwide group of medical institutions that cooperate in laboratory research studies and clinical trials of cancer treatments for children. Instead of studying genetic variations acquired by leukemia cells, scientists identified small genetic variations the children inherited from their parents.

The researchers then determined which of those small, inherited variations, called single-nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs), were associated with minimal residual disease (MRD). MRD is the small number of leukemic cells that survive after remission induction therapythe initial treatmen
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Contact: Summer Freeman
summer.freeman@stjude.org
901-595-3061
St. Jude Children's Research Hospital
Source:Eurekalert

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