Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

New Drug For Children With High-risk Leukemia

Date:
July 30, 2009
Source:
Tel Aviv University
Summary:
New research has indicated a drug already in clinical trials for a blood disease common in adults may be relevant for acute childhood leukemia.

Each year, approximately 4,500 children in America are diagnosed with leukemia, according to the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society. A potentially deadly cancer of the blood, it is the most common cancer in children.

"Modern medicine can cure eight out of 10 cases of childhood leukemia, so parents can still be hopeful when they hear a diagnosis," says Dr. Shai Izraeli of Tel Aviv University's Sackler School of Medicine and Sheba Medical Center. "Our research gives hope and life to the 20% who might not make it as well as those who may experience a relapse."

The first researchers to discover a mutation of the JAK2 protein in patients with Down syndrome, the Tel Aviv University team suspected that this protein might also be linked to other disorders and diseases — and they were right. Based on the successful results of this research a drug that is already in clinical trials for a blood disease common in adults may be relevant for acute childhood leukemia. If initial trials go well, the drug could fast-track through approvals and could be available for treating children with leukemia in only a few years.

The recent findings are based on Dr. Izraeli's original discovery of the JAK2 in Down syndrome, published recently in the prestigious medical journal The Lancet.

Finding a model in children with Down syndrome

According to Dr. Izraeli, a similar mutation of the JAK2 in Down syndrome and leukemia causes Polycythemia Vera, a disease common in adults that leads to the overproduction of blood. This discovery of a similar mutation in a subset of pediatric leukemia cases may provide a path to new life-saving medication options.

Dr. Izraeli first discovered JAK2 mutations in children who initially suffered from Down syndrome and subsequently developed leukemia (a child with Down syndrome is 20 to 30 times more likely to develop leukemia during childhood than a child without it). Dr. Izraeli was then inspired to screen for gene mutations that could result in increased proliferation of cells. In collaboration with the iBFM Study Group, a European childhood leukemia consortium, 90 cases of Down syndrome leukemia from all over Europe were studied. A JAK2 mutation was found in 20% of these cases.

The discovery represents a unique biological phenomenon. "This is perhaps the first example of two very similar — but different — mutations that apparently do the same thing in a cellular protein. But they're associated with two completely different disorders, one that causes polycythemia in adults and the other that causes leukemia in children," says Dr. Izraeli.

"Those children at the highest risk for leukemia may be treated with inhibitors of JAK2," he says. "And because of the existence of polycythemia in adults, there are already drugs to fight polycythemia entering into trials as we speak. We will know in just a few years what these drugs are capable of."

An alternative to chemotherapy

Dr. Izraeli says the discovery offers "potential hope" to children who suffer from leukemia. "JAK2 inhibitors are not based on chemotherapy. The first experiences with these treatments show very few side effects. All that researchers need to do is to expand these clinical trials to children and adults with high-risk leukemia — and that can happen relatively quickly," says Dr. Izraeli.

Dr. Izraeli explains that typical chemotherapies for leukemia also have a high "toxicity cost." Children with leukemia are treated with 10 to 12 different chemotherapies over a period of two to three years. Some of them have long-term and irreversible damage, such as neurological, heart, bone problems and sterility. Researchers looking for viable alternatives may turn to Dr. Izraeli's research as a promising avenue for success.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Tel Aviv University. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

Tel Aviv University. "New Drug For Children With High-risk Leukemia." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 30 July 2009. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/07/090728123052.htm>.
Tel Aviv University. (2009, July 30). New Drug For Children With High-risk Leukemia. ScienceDaily. Retrieved August 23, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/07/090728123052.htm
Tel Aviv University. "New Drug For Children With High-risk Leukemia." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/07/090728123052.htm (accessed August 23, 2014).

Share This




More Health & Medicine News

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Drug Used To Treat 'Ebola's Cousin' Shows Promise

Drug Used To Treat 'Ebola's Cousin' Shows Promise

Newsy (Aug. 21, 2014) An experimental drug used to treat Marburg virus in rhesus monkeys could give new insight into a similar treatment for Ebola. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Two US Ebola Patients Leave Hospital Free of the Disease

Two US Ebola Patients Leave Hospital Free of the Disease

AFP (Aug. 21, 2014) Two American missionaries who were sickened with Ebola while working in Liberia and were treated with an experimental drug are doing better and have left the hospital, doctors say on August 21, 2014. Duration: 01:05 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Cadavers, a Teen, and a Medical School Dream

Cadavers, a Teen, and a Medical School Dream

AP (Aug. 21, 2014) Contains graphic content. He's only 17. But Johntrell Bowles has wanted to be a doctor from a young age, despite the odds against him. He was recently the youngest participant in a cadaver program at the Indiana University NW medical school. (Aug. 21) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
American Ebola Patients Released: What Cured Them?

American Ebola Patients Released: What Cured Them?

Newsy (Aug. 21, 2014) It's unclear whether the American Ebola patients' recoveries can be attributed to an experimental drug or early detection and good medical care. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins