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Cancer-initiating cells identified for childhood common Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia


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Cancer-initiating cells identified for childhood common Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia

NEW YORK (Reuters Health) - Researchers have identified a group of cells that appear to be responsible for initiating childhood leukemia associated with the fusion gene TEL-AML1, a common form of the disease.

Dr. Tariq Enver, from the University of Oxford in the UK, and colleagues identified these cells by studying a pair of identical twins discordant for TEL-AML1-associated leukemia, according to their report in the January 18th issue of Science.

The cells, which were present in both the affected and healthy twin, contained the TEL-AML1 mutation, but were not yet overtly cancerous. Transplantation into mice showed that these cells were capable of initiating leukemia.

The researchers believe that TEL-AM1 acts as a first-hit mutation for these "preleukemic" cells and endows them with self-renewal and enhanced survival properties. If a second mutation occurs, as it presumably did in the affected twin, then these cells develop a malignant phenotype.

The findings not only have implications for disease etiology but "may also be relevant to cancer therapy where specific targeting of tumor-propagating cells may be desirable," the authors conclude.

Πηγή: Reuters Health/American Society of Clinical Oncology

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