Molecules Might Identify High-Risk Acute-Leukemia Patients

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Acute-Leukemia

New research suggests that certain small molecules used by cells to control the proteins they make might also help doctors identify adult acute-leukemia patients who are likely to respond poorly to therapy.

Researchers say the findings should improve the understanding of acute myeloid leukemia (AML) and could lead to new therapies for patients with few treatment options.

The study examined the levels of molecules called microRNAs in leukemia cells from 122 patients with high- and intermediate-risk AML and in normal blood stem cells from 10 healthy donors.

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The findings showed that both the leukemia cells and their normal counterparts had similar kinds of microRNA, but that the two groups differed in the levels of miRNAs present.

The research also identified two microRNAs present at abnormally high levels that were clearly associated with patient survival.

The investigators verified their findings in an additional group of 60 patients using a different technology.

The study, published online Jan. 10 in the journal Blood, was led by researchers with The Ohio State University Comprehensive Cancer Center and the M.D. Anderson Cancer Center.

"If our results are validated by other groups, these two elevated microRNAs can be used to determine which patients require more aggressive treatment," says first author Dr. Ramiro Garzon, assistant professor of internal medicine and a researcher with The Ohio State University Comprehensive Cancer Center.

"In addition, they may provide new targets for future therapies

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