Two-faced leukemia?

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.

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

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Metabolite common among cancers

Feb 08, 2010

A study published online on February 8 in the Journal of Experimental Medicine reports that several distinct mutations found in a subset of patients with acute myelogenous leukemia (AML) result in excess production of the ...

Gene mutation improves leukemia drug's effect

Jun 17, 2008

Gene mutations that make cells cancerous can sometimes also make them more sensitive to chemotherapy. A new study led by cancer researchers at Ohio State University shows that a mutation present in some cases of acute leukemia ...

Clinical importance of leukemia stem cells validated

Aug 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

70-gene signature not cost-effective in breast cancer

Oct 18, 2014

(HealthDay)—For patients with node-negative breast cancer (NNBC), the 70-gene signature is unlikely to be cost-effective for guiding adjuvant chemotherapy decision making, according to a study published ...

User comments