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New therapeutic targets on B-acute lymphoblastic leukemia identified

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New therapeutic targets on B-acute lymphoblastic leukemia identified

New discoveries have been made on adult B-lymphoblast acute leukemias. The research, made by U.S. scientists, was published in Cancer Discovery, a journal of the American Association for Cancer Research.

The researchers wanted to find out what genetic alterations are associated with poor prognosis in patients with B-lymphoblast acute leukemias. Therefore, a team led by Ari Melnick, MD, associate professor of medicine and director of the Raymond and Beverly Sackler Center for Biomedical and Physical Sciences at Weill Cornell Medical College and a hematologist-oncologist at New York-Presbyterian Hospital / Weill Cornell Medical Center, studied 215 specimens obtained from patients with B-lymphoblast acute leukemias.

B-acute lymphoblastic leukemia

B-acute lymphoblastic leukemia

The specimens were taken from patients enrolled in a large Eastern Cooperative Oncology Group phase III clinical trial. Melnick said the intention to make an integrative epigenomics study came from the desire to discover why this type of adult patients with leukemia have a poor prognosis. He said he hoped to discover, along with underlying causes of this fact, and new therapeutic targets for the treatment of leukemia.

In most cases, genetic alterations are associated with epigenetic changes in the DNA. Epigenetic changes occur when DNA is not packed as it should. It should be noted that genetic alterations, along with the epigenetic changes, stimulate carcinogenesis process. The study conducted by Melnick  revealed that many of the features of B-lymphoblast acute leukemias are due to epigenetic changes. Furthermore, these epigenetic changes could be the basis for the discovery of key processes in the development of leukemia. Melnick said that one of the findings was that the surface molecule CD25 is an indicator of aggressive forms of leukemia. In addition, the researchers also found that mutant forms of MLL proteins leads to expression of a oncoprotein, BCL6, is involved in the proliferation and survival of leukemia cells.

Based on this discovery, the researchers then created Bcl6 inhibitors and showed that they can destroy leukemia cells in patients enrolled in the study. Now researchers want to use CD25 as a marker to identify severe forms of leukemia and create appropriate therapies for such situations.

Acute lymphoblastic leukemia refers to malignant proliferation of leukocytes and represents about 75% of leukemias in children. A clear cause of leukemia is not identified, but there were put into question many factors. Among the causes of this disease include exposure to benzene, ionizing radiation, pesticides and others. If the child can treat acute lymphoblastic leukemia in most cases, the same cannot be said for adults. Symptoms of this disease are fever, pallor, swollen lymph nodes, fatigue, bleeding, bruising, etc.