Dr. Charles Mullighan, an associate member of the St. Jude Children's Research Hospital Department of Pathology, said the discovery of the genetic basis of a high-risk subtype of leukemia showed some patients might benefit from existing targeted therapies, advancing the goal of curing all children with leukemia.
The study focused on a subtype of acute lymphoblastic leukemia known as Philadelphia chromosome-like acute lymphoblastic leukemia, or Ph-like ALL, that accounted for as much as 15 percent of childhood acute lymphoblastic leukemia. It is associated with a high risk of relapse and poor outcomes.
"One of the next steps will be to continue work on laboratory tests to rapidly identify patients whose cancer cells carry these alterations and to develop clinical trials to test targeted therapies," Mullighan said in a statement.
The findings were published online in the journal Cancer Cell.