Study underlines potential treatment for leukemia relapse

Study underlines potential treatment for leukemia relapse

Going by a Japanese study, published in Science Translational Medicine, there are as many as 25 different stretches of DNA that are particularly active in the leukemia cells; and each one of them can potentially help design a new drug to fight the disease.

Noting that there are various types and sub-types of leukemia, lead researcher Fumihiko Ishikawa, of Yokohama, Japan-based RIKEN Research Center for Allergy & Immunology, said that though anti-cancer drugs help most leukemia patients enter remission, most of the acute myeloid leukemia (AML) patients largely face the chances of a relapse and eventual death.

After comparing leukemia stem cells of 61 patients with blood stem cells of normal healthy people, Ishikawa and colleagues found that leukemia stem cells are chiefly the cancer cells that produce new tumor cells; thereby helping the cancer spread in a patient’s body.

The study elaborated that though most of the young and nearly half of elderly AML patients are treated, the overall survival rate is fairly low due to the cancer’s relapse – merely 20 percent of AML patients survive for five years after their initial diagnosis of the disease.

Commenting on the potential line of treatment for leukemia relapse, Ishikawa said that is drugs against the newly-identified DNA stretches are developed, “we have a pretty good possibility of eliminating leukemia stem cells that cannot be killed by conventional anti-cancer drugs.”