Chemotherapy contributes to mortality in AML

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When it relapses, acute myeloid leukemia is most often fatal, but recently researchers took a step closer to understanding why.

According to a study published in Nature, one contributing factor to this high mortality is likely something known as clonal evolution.

By sequencing the genomes of primary tumors and of their subsequent relapsed tumors in eight patients, researchers determined that it was likely that DNA damage caused by the induction chemotherapy given these patients created a change in the DNA of the primary tumor. The result was the relapsed tumor.

In other words, chemotherapy treatment meant to put AML patients into remission may be simply mutating the DNA of the original tumor and making it even harder to treat when it returns.

Said researchers, "These data demonstrate that AML relapse is associated with the addition of new mutations and clonal evolution, which is shaped, in part, by the chemotherapy that the patients receive to establish and maintain remissions.”

Image: Myeloblasts with Auer rods seen in Acute Myeloid Leukemia (AML), by Paulo Henrique Orlandi Mourao

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