Acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ANNEX), is a cancer involving white blood cells known as lymphocytes, and unfortunately it is the most common childhood cancer that affects 25% of all cancer diagnoses, and its aggressiveness makes it a leading cause of death from childhood cancer. While healing rates have improved thanks to the chemotherapy, cancer treatments are toxic.
Survivors face an increased risk of heart disease, lung disease, neurocognitive defects, and an increased risk of developing secondary cancer later in their life.
New research has found children born with a genetic predisposition to produce more lymphocytes, particularly in relation to other types of white blood cells, are at the highest risk of developing ALL of all. This discovery could help in the development of risk models for infants that could lead to early intervention strategies.
The study was published in the scientific journal Journal of Human Genetics.
Acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL): here’s what the research says
“I hope our research will be able to help identify the babies at birth who have the highest risk of leukemia “, stated the corresponding author Adam de Smith, assistant professor at the Center for Genetic Epidemiology at the USC Keck School of Medicine and a member ofUSC Norris Comprehensive Center. “An ideal goal would be if future neonatal screening could incorporate screening for pre-leukemia ”.
Past genetic studies have identified over a dozen locations on the genome associated with acute lymphoblastic leukemia infantile. Noting that these points corresponded to places on the genome associated with variations in blood cell traits, such as white blood cell counts, the The USC team was inspired to investigate a connection between the overproduction of lymphocytes and the risk of developing acute lymphoblastic leukemia.
The study found that children genetically predisposed to producing large amounts of lymphocytes have a 20% or more increased risk of developing acute lymphoblastic leukemia. The study also shed light on the importance of number of lymphocytes in proportion to other key blood cells.