Roots of leukemia reveal possibility of predicting people at risk
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Scientists have discovered that it is possible to identify people at high risk of developing acute myeloid leukaemia (AML) years before diagnosis. The researchers from Wellcome Sanger Institute, European Bioinformatics Institute (EMBL-EBI) and their international collaborators found that patients with AML had genetic changes in their blood years before they suddenly developed the disease.

The study, published in the journal Nature, found that blood tests looking for changes in the DNA code can reveal the roots of AML in healthy people. Further research could allow earlier detection and monitoring of people at risk of AML in the future, and open the prospect of developing ways to reduce the likelihood of developing this cancer.

Acute myeloid leukaemia is an aggressive blood cancer that affects people of all ages. The cancer cells multiply quickly in the bone marrow and stop the production of normal blood cells, leading to fatal infections and bleeding. Mainstream treatments for AML treatments have changed very little for several decades and whilst some patients are cured, the majority are not.

To uncover the earliest steps in the development of AML, the researchers collaborated with the European Prospective Investigation into Cancer and Nutrition (EPIC) study*. Enrolment into EPIC

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