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Newly identified genes may help predict outcome in childhood leukemia

(San Diego, Calif., December 7, 2003) The measurement of new genes at diagnosis in children with acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL), discovered through new technologies from the human genome project, may be highly predictive of therapeutic outcomes, according to a study presented today during the 45th Annual Meeting of the American Society of Hematology (ASH). OPAL 1 (Outcome Predictor in Acute Leukemia 1), a novel, fully cloned human gene, and additional newly identified genes, have a strong predictive power to identify patients who may achieve remission or fail current therapeutic regimens for pediatric ALL, allowing physicians to tailor therapies more effectively to individual children with leukemia.

Study results showed that 87 percent of the patients with ALL and high OPAL 1 achieved long-term remission, compared to an overall outcome of 32 percent of all patients studied. OPAL1 was also highly predictive of a favorable outcome in T-cell ALL, and a similar trend was observed in infant ALL. Low OPAL1 was associated with induction failure, while high OPAL1 was associated with long-term event free survival, particularly in males. Eighty-six percent of ALL cases with t(12;21), which has prognostic value in ALL, and high OPAL1 achieved long term remission compared to only 35 percent of t(12;21) cases with low OPAL1, suggesting that OPAL1 may be useful in prospectively identifying children who may benefit from further intensification.

"Our study confirms that gene expression profiling can yield novel genes that may be used to improve risk classification and outcome prediction in acute leukemia in children," said Cheryl L. Willman, M.D., of the University of New Mexico Health Sciences Center, Albuquerque, N.M., senior author of the study. "Improving risk classification schemes in order to precisely tailor treatment regimens to individual patients has long been a major challenge for pediatric ALL, and is a goal of the Nation
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Contact: Aimee Frank
amf@spectrumscience.com
202-955-6222
American Society of Hematology
7-Dec-2003


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