Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Genetic differences between lethal and treatable forms of leukemia discovered

Date:
January 7, 2010
Source:
New York- Presbyterian Hospital/Weill Cornell Medical Center/Weill Cornell Medical College
Summary:
A tumor's genetic profile is often useful when diagnosing and deciding on treatment for certain cancers, but inexplicably, genetically similar leukemias in different patients do not always respond well to the same therapy. Researchers believe they may have discovered what distinguishes these patients by evaluating the "epigenetic" differences between patients with acute myeloid leukemia.

A tumor's genetic profile is often useful when diagnosing and deciding on treatment for certain cancers, but inexplicably, genetically similar leukemias in different patients do not always respond well to the same therapy. Weill Cornell Medical College researchers believe they may have discovered what distinguishes these patients by evaluating the "epigenetic" differences between patients with acute myeloid leukemia (AML).

Related Articles


In recent years it has been appreciated that there are additional chemical codes in addition to DNA sequence that control the behavior of normal and malignant cells. These additional codes are called "epi"genetic since they are contained outside of the DNA sequence.

The investigators have concluded that much of the inter-patient difference in leukemia cell behavior is dependent on a patient's specific epigenetic alterations. These results are expected to lead to tailored cancer therapies for patients who fall within the different epigenetically defined cancer subtypes.

The promising findings are published January 7 in the journal Cancer Cell.

To make their conclusions, Dr. Ari Melnick, the study's senior author and associate professor of medicine from the Raymond and Beverly Sackler Center for Biomedical and Physical Sciences at Weill Cornell Medical College, and colleagues studied a specific epigenetic marker called DNA methylation, which plays a critical role in controlling gene expression.

They examined the DNA methylation patterning of 14,000 genes in 344 patients diagnosed with AML. By grouping these patients according to their DNA methylation profile, Dr. Melnick and his team were able to separate patients into 16 different groups. Five of these groups defined completely new AML subtypes that shared no other known feature, besides the newly discovered methylation similarities.

"The epigenetic difference between the AML subtypes may play a critical role in determining the responsiveness of the disease to therapy," says Dr. Melnick.

Traditionally, AML patients are treated with first-line chemotherapy drugs. If they fail, patients are classified as having a more severe and difficult-to-treat disease, and are then given a more aggressive therapy, like a bone marrow transplant. Being able to tell which patients are most likely to fail standard treatments could lead to the administration of more precise therapies at the outset of treatment.

They also concluded that a set of 15-gene DNA methylation biomarker was highly predictive of overall patient survival. "The findings have the potential to tell physicians whether or not a patient has a relatively easy or difficult disease to treat, and tailor a patient's therapy accordingly," explains Dr. Melnick. "This saves time trying therapies that will eventually prove to have no effect."

In addition, the investigators discovered a set of 45 genes that are almost universally methylated in AML patients. Methylation of these genes was far more common than any genetic mutation associated with AML, and could provide new ways to more effectively therapeutically target AML in the future.

"Investigators from the Sackler Center at Weill Cornell are leaders in the field of decoding epigenetic information from human tumors and ascertaining their clinical impact," says Dr. Andrew I. Schafer, chairman of the Department of Medicine at NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital/Weill Cornell Medical College. "Such findings will lead to the development of new therapies that give hope to cancer patients who are now without effective treatment.

Collaborators on this study include Maria E. Figueroa, Yushan Li, Xutao Deng, Paul J. Christos, Lucy Skrabanek, Fabien Campagne and Madhu Mazumda, all from Weill Cornell; Elizabeth Schifano and James Booth, from Cornell Univeristy, Ithaca, New York; Sanne Lugthart, Claudia Erpelinck-Verschueren, Peter J.M. Valk, Wim van Putten, Bob Lφwenberg and Ruud Delwel from Erasmus University Medical Center, Rotterdam, The Netherlands; and John M. Greally from Albert Einstein College of Medicine, New York.

This study was supported by a Translational Research grant from the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society to Drs. Melnick and Delwel.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by New York- Presbyterian Hospital/Weill Cornell Medical Center/Weill Cornell Medical College. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

New York- Presbyterian Hospital/Weill Cornell Medical Center/Weill Cornell Medical College. "Genetic differences between lethal and treatable forms of leukemia discovered." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 7 January 2010. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/01/100107133405.htm>.
New York- Presbyterian Hospital/Weill Cornell Medical Center/Weill Cornell Medical College. (2010, January 7). Genetic differences between lethal and treatable forms of leukemia discovered. ScienceDaily. Retrieved November 24, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/01/100107133405.htm
New York- Presbyterian Hospital/Weill Cornell Medical Center/Weill Cornell Medical College. "Genetic differences between lethal and treatable forms of leukemia discovered." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/01/100107133405.htm (accessed November 24, 2014).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Health & Medicine News

Monday, November 24, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Winter Can Cause Depression — Here's How To Combat It

Winter Can Cause Depression — Here's How To Combat It

Newsy (Nov. 23, 2014) — Millions of American suffer from seasonal depression every year. It can lead to adverse health effects, but there are ways to ease symptoms. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Ebola-Hit Sierra Leone's Late Cocoa Leaves Bitter Taste

Ebola-Hit Sierra Leone's Late Cocoa Leaves Bitter Taste

AFP (Nov. 23, 2014) — The arable district of Kenema in Sierra Leone -- at the centre of the Ebola outbreak in May -- has been under quarantine for three months as the cocoa harvest comes in. Duration: 01:32 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Don't Fall For Flu Shot Myths

Don't Fall For Flu Shot Myths

Newsy (Nov. 23, 2014) — Misconceptions abound when it comes to your annual flu shot. Medical experts say most people older than 6 months should get the shot. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
WFP: Ebola Risks Heightened Among Women Throughout Africa

WFP: Ebola Risks Heightened Among Women Throughout Africa

AFP (Nov. 21, 2014) — Having children has always been a frightening prospect in Sierra Leone, the world's most dangerous place to give birth, but Ebola has presented an alarming new threat for expectant mothers. Duration: 00:37 Video provided by AFP
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:

Strange & Offbeat Stories

 

Health & Medicine

Mind & Brain

Living & Well

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