DNA test for predicing risk of leukemia relapse
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IMAGE: This is a bone marrow smear from a patient with AML. view more 

Credit: The Armed Forces Institute of Pathology (AFIP) via Wikimedia Commons

A group of Canadian and Korean scientists and physicians have developed the first DNA-based test that allows them to tell which patients will relapse after receiving chemotherapy and a bone marrow transplant, for their acute myeloid leukemia, or AML. The findings, published recently in the journal Blood, could help doctors improve patient outcome by changing the treatment before cancer has returned in full force.

“We can detect mutations in patients’ bone marrow cells three weeks after the transplant and based on that predict the likelihood of their relapse,” says Zhaolei Zhang, Principal Investigator in the University of Toronto’s Donnelly Centre for Cellular and Biomolecular Research and a professor in the Departments of Molecular Genetics and Computer Science, who co-led the study.

AML is the most common type of leukemia in adults, comprising about one quarter of all cases. It affects the bone marrow, the spongy tissue inside the bone where all blood cells are made. The disease stems from an overproduction of immature blood cells which over time outgrow normal blood cells. It’s a

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