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New gene marker may identify need for intense AML therapy

COLUMBUS, Ohio Researchers here have discovered a new marker that might identify a serious form of acute myeloid leukemia (AML) in people who lack the signs that normally alert doctors that the patient needs intense therapy.

The study was led by researchers with The Ohio State University Comprehensive Cancer Center Arthur G. James Cancer Hospital and Richard J. Solove Research Institute. It focused on AML patients whose cancer cells show none of the chromosome alterations that help doctors determine the probable prognosis and the best potential treatment for many people with acute leukemia.

Specifically, the study examined the activity of a gene known as ETS-Related Gene (ERG) in AML cells from these patients.

The findings, published online in the Journal of Clinical Oncology, suggest that when AML cells show high ERG activity, it signals an aggressive form of cancer that requires intense therapy, such as a stem-cell transplant from a matched donor.

Importantly, the study also showed that effects of ERG activity on disease relapse and long-term survival are influenced by the activity levels of other genes.

Last, the study suggests that ERG plays an important role in AML development and could provide a new target for future AML therapy.

The findings come from a Cancer and Leukemia Group B (CALGB) study led by Clara D. Bloomfield, professor of internal medicine, the William G. Pace III Professor in Cancer Research, OSU Cancer Scholar and senior adviser to the OSU Cancer Program.

"This is another of only a few predictive molecular markers for adults with AML who have normal cytogenetics," says Bloomfield, who led the research that identified the first molecular marker for AML in this group of patients. Normal cytogenetics refers to cells with normal-looking chromosomes.

"If confirmed, our findings should improve survival in these patients and spare those who now receive more intense therapy but d
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Contact: Darrell E. Ward
Darrell.Ward@osumc.edu
614-293-3737
Ohio State University
14-Nov-2005


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