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Technologies for monitoring remaining leukemia after treatment may help predict patient outcomes
Date:7/9/2013

(WASHINGTON, July 9, 2013) New evidence suggests that using advanced genetics technologies to monitor for remaining cancer cells after treatment may soon become an effective tool to inform treatment decisions and ultimately predict patient outcomes for patients with a particularly aggressive form of acute lymphocytic leukemia (ALL). Study results were published online today in Blood, the Journal of the American Society of Hematology (ASH).

Approximately 25 to 30 percent of all adults with ALL, the second most common type of acute leukemia, have what is known as Philadelphia chromosome-positive (Ph+) ALL, a rapidly progressing form of the disease caused by a genetic abnormality that is associated with a poor prognosis. Following their first complete remission, one of the most common preventive treatments Ph+ ALL patients undergo is an allogeneic stem cell transplant, in which a patient receives stem cells from a sibling or unrelated matched donor; however, this procedure can be associated with harsh side effects and may not be universally available. Some research conducted since the introduction and subsequent success of a new class of cancer drugs called tyrosine kinase inhibitors (TKIs), which target the abnormal, leukemia-causing protein BCR-ABL and have greatly improved survival rates, suggests that stem cell transplantation may not be necessary for some Ph+ ALL patients. However, clinicians lack a reliable method for predicting disease progression and determining whether a patient's disease is aggressive enough to warrant a stem cell transplant or if TKI therapy plus chemotherapy will likely eradicate the disease.

Despite the advent of these powerful, targeted cancer therapies, some cancer cells may linger in a patient's body following the primary course
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Contact: Amanda Szabo
aszabo@hematology.org
202-552-4914
American Society of Hematology
Source:Eurekalert

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