Two-faced leukemia?

December 12, 2011

One kind of leukemia sometimes masquerades as another, according to a study published online this week in the Journal of Experimental Medicine.

Leukemia results when normal immune cells accumulate mutations that drive uncontrolled growth. T cell acute lymphoblastic leukemia (T-ALL) derives from immature T cells, whereas (AML) comes from .

Only 50% of adult T-ALL patients can be cured, and a team led by Adolfo Ferrando at Columbia University Institute for Cancer Genetics is trying to understand why.

Ferrando's group examined the genes expressed in tumors from T-ALL patients and found that half of the tumors expressed some genes normally found in stem cells and AML tumors. Many of these AML-like T-ALL tumors contained specific AML-associated mutations, and one quarter had mutations in ETV6, a gene involved in stem cell function—cells whose self-renewing capacity can propagate cancers. Additional work is needed to understand whether mutations in ETV6 influence the prognosis of patients with tumors in the gray zone between T-ALL and AML.

Explore further: Clinical importance of leukemia stem cells validated

More information: Van Vlierberghe, P., et al. 2011. J. Exp. Med. doi:10.1084/jem.20112239

Related Stories

Clinical importance of leukemia stem cells validated

August 28, 2011

Cancer scientists have long debated whether all cells within a tumour are equal or whether some cancer cells are more potent - a question that has been highly investigated in experimental models in the last decade. Research ...

Recommended for you

Forecasting the path of breast cancer in a patient

November 23, 2015

USC researchers have developed a mathematical model to forecast metastatic breast cancer survival rates using techniques usually reserved for weather prediction, financial forecasting and surfing the Web.


Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.