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Childhood leukaemia genes found

1 September 2009
Appeared in BioNews 523

Research published earlier this month in Nature Genetics is the first to show that there is a genetic component to acute lymphoblastic leukaemia (ALL), the most common form of childhood cancer. The team, led by Professor Richard Houlston at the Institute of Cancer Research, London, identified three genetic variants that raise children's risk of developing ALL.

Previous research had suggested that cell mutations, possibly brought on by common childhood infections, were likely to be part of the explanation for why some children develop ALL. This study is the first to search the complete genome for possible inherited risk factors for ALL. However, the teams conducting the research were keen to emphasise that there is no one factor which explains development of ALL and environmental and genetic factors work in combination.

The study pooled the data from two case-control studies, resulting in the analysis of a total of 907 children with leukaemia and 2,398 controls without leukaemia. All three variants identified occur in genes (IKZF1, ARID5B, CEBPE) which are involved in the specialisation of white blood cells.

Whilst these findings do not provide solutions for prevention or treatment of ALL at present, study co-investigator Professor Mel Greaves described them as 'a very significant advance in our understanding the complex process by which children develop leukaemia.'

Childhood leukaemia genes revealed
BBC News Online |  16 August 2009
Child leukaemia genes found
NHS News |  16 August 2009
Research links childhood leukaemia to parent’s genes
The Times |  17 August 2009
Three genetic variants linked to common childhood leukaemia found
Medical News Today |  16 August 2009
17 December 2012 - by Joseph Jebelli 
A seven-year-old girl with a highly aggressive form of leukaemia may have been 'cured' by an experimental therapy that harnesses the body's immune system to seek out and destroy the disease....
4 April 2011 - by Maren Urner 
Researchers from the Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute have identified three different genetic mutations linked to acute myeloid leukaemia (AML), a cancer that is characterised by a rapid increase in abnormal white blood cells in the bone marrow....
12 January 2009 - by Dr Charlotte Maden 
A new report published online in the New England Journal of Medicine last week describes the clinical relevance of the genetic changes in children with acute lymphoblastic leukaemia (ALL). ALL, a cancer of the blood and bone marrow, is the most prevalent cancer in children. The cure...
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