International research consortium led by researchers from the University of Helsinki, Finland, discovered new information related to a rare form of leukemia called aggressive NK-cell leukemia. Potential new treatment options were found which are highly warranted as currently this disease usually leads to rapid death of patients.
The study was published in Nature Communications.
Aggressive NK-cell leukemia (ANKL) is a cancer in which leukemia cells consist of natural killer cells, a part of our immune system in normal conditions. The disease is very rare and aggressive: with the current treatment options (cytostatic drugs and hematopoietic stem cell transplantation) patients usually survive only a couple of months. This leukemia type is more common in the Asian population. However, related diseases such as NK/T-cell lymphomas occur also in western countries.
Together with Japanese, South-Korean, Taiwanese and US research teams, the researchers from the University of Helsinki aimed to discover which genetic defects are typical in this type of leukemia.
“ANKL patients often had mutations in the STAT3 and DDX3X genes which points towards partly shared genetic background with other NK- and T-cell malignancies,” says Professor Satu Mustjoki whose group initially discovered somatic STAT3 mutations in LGL leukemia.
By comparing the exome
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