Around 600 children under the age of 15 are diagnosed with leukaemia each year in Germany. The effects are especially dramatic if this severe illness develops at birth or shortly afterwards. Research carried out at the Division of Genetics at Friedrich-Alexander-Universität Erlangen-Nürnberg (FAU) with support from the Institute for Human Genetics has now discovered another molecular cause for a particularly aggressive type of leukaemia in infants. The results have been published in the renowned journal Blood (*doi: 10.1182/blood-2017-11-815035).
While tumours tend to affect the health of older people, leukaemia (blood cancer) frequently affects children. A special type of leukaemia, which is particularly difficult to treat and often occurs in very young patients, is the subject of research carried out by Prof. Robert Slany and his team at the Division of Genetics at FAU.
With this type of cancer, the genes in the white blood cells affected change slightly, causing two chromosomes to cross. This produces an abnormal protein that disrupts cell growth control. ‘The longer we study these classes of proteins, the clearer it becomes how adept these molecules are at interfering with cellular growth to such an extent that makes normal control virtually impossible,’ says Prof. Slany.
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