Prognostic Biomarker Identified in Chronic Lymphocytic Leukemia

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Researchers at the Ohio State University Comprehensive Cancer Center - Arthur G. James Cancer Hospital and Richard J. Solove Research Institute have identified a potential prognostic marker in a subtype of leukemia that could make the difference between immediate treatment and no treatment at all.

Turning their attention to chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL), the research group, led by principle investigator Dr. John Byrd, examined CLL cells from 247 patients looking at a gene called ZAP-70. They were looking for a chemical transformation known as methylation.

When the ZAP-70 in CLL is methylated, those patients have the indolent form of the disease and may not require treatment for years, but if the CLL cells are unmethylated, the aggressive form is likely at work and treatment ought to begin as soon as possible.

Typically, determining which form of CLL a patient has is a matter of observation—notoriously unreliable and over- or under-treatment is not uncommon among the 16,000 or so people in the US who are diagnosed with CLL every year.

Said Dr. Byrd, "This study demonstrates that ZAP-70 methylation status is a highly predictive, reproducible biomarker of poor prognosis in this disease, and a clinically useful prognostic test for CLL."

Their findings have been published in the Journal of Clinical Oncology

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