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Gene Abnormality Found to Predict Childhood Leukemia Relapse
Date:1/7/2009

n plays an essential role in the development of lymphocytes, the white blood cells that, when changed, give rise to pediatric ALL. The way in which IKAROS abnormalities contribute to the development of relapse remains to be determined.

The study also examined gene expression in the leukemia cells using microarray chips, and found that leukemia cells from patients with IKAROS alterations expressed primitive, stem cell-like genes, suggesting that the cells are less mature and possibly more resistant to the effects of drugs used to treat ALL. "These findings show how detailed analysis of leukemic cells using complementary techniques can enhance our understanding of the genetic basis of leukemia," said co-author Cheryl Willman, M.D., director and CEO, University of New Mexico Cancer Research & Treatment Center.

The researchers also tested whether the presence of IKAROS alterations was associated with levels of minimal residual disease, another measure of treatment response in ALL.

"Measurement of levels of minimal residual disease is widely used to monitor treatment responsiveness and also to alter patients' therapy if they have a very poor response to treatment," said James Downing, M.D., St. Jude scientific director and the paper's senior author. "An important analysis we conducted was to see whether identifying the association of IKAROS alterations with poor outcome added anything to just measuring levels of minimal residual disease. And, indeed, it did."

The researchers' analysis indicated that identifying IKAROS alterations may be clinically useful and will complement existing diagnostic tests and measurement of minimal residual disease levels.

While a clinical test for alterations of IKAROS could prove valuable for predicting poor outcomes in children with ALL, complexities remain. There are different types of deletions in t
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SOURCE St. Jude Children's Research Hospital
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