Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Inherited gene variation tied to high-risk pediatric leukemia and greater risk of relapse

News Brief by Rohan Rao

A collaborative effort between scientists at St. Jude Children’s Research hospital and Children’s Oncology Group found a genetic link between an inherited gene and an increased likelihood of developing a particular subtype of pediatric acute lymphoblastic leukemia, or ALL for short. The specific subtype is called Philadelphia chromosome-like ALL. The gene in question is GATA3; it regulates production of a transcription factor that is involved in the development of blood cells. The study showed that a certain high-risk gene variant of GATA3 was linked with a 3.85 times increased likelihood of developing this subtype of leukemia. Interestingly, this gene variant is significantly more common in Hispanics. In the United States, this gene is present in 40% of Hispanics, but in only 10% of those of European descent. Besides the higher risk for cancer development, the prospects of cancer returning and a poor prognosis for treatment were higher. According to the authors, this is the first study to find any genetic reason that would predispose someone to Philadelphia chromosome-like ALL and may prove to be a beneficial step towards combatting this type of cancer.

Reference: St. Jude Children's Research Hospital. "Inherited Gene Variation Tied to High-risk Pediatric Leukemia and Greater Risk of Relapse." Inherited Gene Variation Tied to High-risk Pediatric Leukemia and Greater Risk of Relapse. St. Jude Children's Research Hospital, 20 Oct. 2013. Web. 21 Oct. 2013.
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