Medications

Locking leukemia's cellular escape hatch

Leukemia starts in cells that would normally develop into different types of blood cells. About 61,000 people in the U.S. are diagnosed each year, and depending on the type of leukemia and the age of the patient, five-year ...

Medications

Rewiring the biology of leukemia cells to reverse drug resistance

Researchers from Barts Cancer Institute at Queen Mary University of London have identified a way to reverse resistance to a group of cancer drugs, known as kinase inhibitors, in leukemia cells. By rewiring the inner workings ...

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Acute myeloid leukemia (AML), also known as acute myelogenous leukemia, is a cancer of the myeloid line of blood cells, characterized by the rapid growth of abnormal white blood cells that accumulate in the bone marrow and interfere with the production of normal blood cells. AML is the most common acute leukemia affecting adults, and its incidence increases with age. Although AML is a relatively rare disease, accounting for approximately 1.2% of cancer deaths in the United States, its incidence is expected to increase as the population ages.

The symptoms of AML are caused by replacement of normal bone marrow with leukemic cells, which causes a drop in red blood cells, platelets, and normal white blood cells. These symptoms include fatigue, shortness of breath, easy bruising and bleeding, and increased risk of infection. Several risk factors and chromosomal abnormalities have been identified, but the specific cause is not clear. As an acute leukemia, AML progresses rapidly and is typically fatal within weeks or months if left untreated.

AML has several subtypes; treatment and prognosis varies among subtypes. Five-year survival varies from 15–70%, and relapse rate varies from 33-78%, depending on subtype. AML is treated initially with chemotherapy aimed at inducing a remission; patients may go on to receive additional chemotherapy or a hematopoietic stem cell transplant. Recent research into the genetics of AML has resulted in the availability of tests that can predict which drug or drugs may work best for a particular patient, as well as how long that patient is likely to survive.

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