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Lymphoma and Pets
Pioneering Technique Offers Accurate Prognosis for Patients with CLL
According to researchers from Cardiff University's School of Medicine, prognosis in patients with chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL) can be accurately determined by measuring the length and function telomeres.
So what are telomeres?
Telomeres are repeating sections of DNA that are found at the ends of chromosomes.
Applying new and pioneering techniques to determine if the telomeres were working or not in cells from patients with CLL, they found that patients with short dysfunctional telomeres had much poorer clinical outcome compared to those with long and functional telomeres.
"For the first time, confident predictions of clinical outcome can be made for individual CLL patients at diagnosis based on accurate analysis of the length of telomeres in cancer cells," said Professor Chris Pepper, who led the current research. "This should prove enormously valuable to doctors, patients and their families and there is no reason why there should not be widespread implementation of this powerful prognostic tool in the near future."
"The accuracy of this test in predicting how a person's disease will develop is unprecedented and, if confirmed in clinical trials, would help doctors decide on the best treatment courses for individual CLL patients," added Dr Matt Kaiser, Head of Research at Leukaemia & Lymphoma Research, who helped fund the study. "Telomeres are known to play a part in the progress of other forms of cancer, so this type of testing could have far-reaching benefits."
While the results offered here need to be confirmed in larger trials, they certainly offer some hope that CLL prognosis can be determined before treatment begins so that that treatment can be tailored for the individual patient and therefore be as effective as possible.
On top of that, there is a psychological benefit to receiving an accurate and reliable prognosis from one's doctors for the patient, allowing them to avoid the uncertainty that normally attends any attempt at prognosis by most physicians.
The researchers' results were reported online in the British Journal of Haematology.