New Test can Detect Treatment Outcomes in Childhood Leukemia Patients
UC San Francisco scientists have developed a test to predict response of treatment to patients with juvenile myelomonocytic leukemia (JMML). It may also identify recovery of patients with less or no treatment.
In a new study published on December 19, 2017 in Nature Communications, UCSF oncologists have discovered that epigenetic annotations of the genome chemical tags that affect the gene regulation can predict the response of JMML patients to treatment. Around 50 children in the U.S. below the age of four suffer from JMML each year. Bone marrow transplant is the only treatment option available with serious long-term side effects.
Using these tags as biomarkers, oncologists can make more informed treatment plans for these patients. However, the study also emphasizes that many patients are unlikely to ever benefit from currently available treatments and highlights a pressing need to develop new targeted therapies. “This data provides important information that will help clinicians decide how intensively and swiftly to treat their patients,” said senior author Mignon Loh, MD, a UCSF Benioff Chair of Children’s Health and the Deborah and Arthur Ablin Endowed Chair in Pediatric Molecular Oncology.
The researchers focused on one type of epigenetic tag called DNA methylation, which is known to have functions in controlling stem cell maturation in children and adults. The team studied genome-wide methylation levels in an initial group of 39 patients with JMML and then validated their results in an additional group of 40 patients treated in Germany. Stieglitz and Loh’s team examined methylation levels of patients using new test and they found that 14 of the 15 known cases of spontaneous recovery mapped closely onto the low-methylation group.
According to Cancer Biomarkers Market report published by Coherent Market Insights, cancer biomarkers can aid in early diagnosis and monitoring the response of treatment in patients with of leukemia. These findings suggest an requirement for further study to design and validate the new methylation test for analysis of JMML in children who could benefit from a this approach rather than to performing risky bone marrow transplants.
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