It’s been known for decades that the incidence of acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL) is 20 times higher in children with Down syndrome than in the general population. And now- thanks to mice- researchers know why!
People with Down syndrome have an extra copy of part or all of chromosome 21. And by working with mice that carry extra copies of genes that are found on chromosome 21, researchers have identified the link between Down syndrome and ALL. Long story short, this particular type of leukemia is caused by an excess of abnormal white blood cells that are supposed to fight infections but don’t work properly. These mice led researchers to the specific proteins involved in this process, and they found- and confirmed in human cell samples- that the gene responsible for spurring the creation of these abnormal cells was an extra gene on chromosome 21. Link: discovered.
While there currently aren’t any drugs that target this specific gene, researchers now know where to focus. Now that they know where the problem lies, they can work to develop drugs that could potentially reduce the chances of a child with Down syndrome developing leukemia! It’s also possible that ALL patients without Down syndrome could benefit from this research.
It’s not good news yet; there’s still work to be done. But I support the fight against pediatric cancer- and the mice do, too!
A novel treatment proves successful in patients with INCURABLE cases of leukemia! 59 patients who had exhausted all other treatment options were treated with a new therapy at UPenn. Out of 32 adult patients with chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL), 15 responded to the treatment and 7 experienced complete remissions. All of the 5 first adult patients with acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL) experienced complete remissions!
But the most amazing results were seen in pediatric cancer patients! Out of 22 patients with ALL, 80% experienced complete remissions! And keep in mind- these were all patients whose cancer was completely resistant to all other types of chemotherapy and who would have died.
Here’s how it works: T-cells are collected from the patient and are then genetically modified so that they target tumor cells. These modified T-cells are then infused back into the patient, where they begin to do their jobs. Because the T-cells are made to target only the proteins expressed on cancer cells, normal cells are left alone. And these T-cells remain in the body, protecting patients from relapse! (Check out link below for details.)
Please take a minute and watch the videos in the below links- definitely worth your time! Amazing what research can do!