Research by the ALL group will allow doctors to provide more specific treatments for patients that have certain genetic changes
Jordi Ribera and Dr Josep Maria Ribera have published a paper that will have important consequences for patients in treatment for Acute Lymphoblastic Leukaemia (ALL).
Research group webpage: Acute Lymphoblastic Leukaemia (ALL)
They have described a way to identify patients who will respond better to different types of treatment, which will mean more effective treatments and fewer side effects.
Overall survival in adult patients with ALL is 40% and the prognosis for patients whom the disease returns is very poor.
Three deletions of genes had previously been seen to be relevant in infant leukaemia’s but the few studies on adults were inconclusive, so this study was carried out on 142 adolescent and adult patients on a nationally used treatment protocol as coordinated by the PETHEMA (Spanish Program for Haematology Treatments). Patients with the gene EBF1 deleted are resistant to chemotherapy, those with deletions of IKZF1 are more likely to relapse and those with deletions of CDKN2A/B have a much poorer overall survival.
Jordi Ribera explains, "The identification of these 3 genes allows us to separate out groups of patients, which means a better treatment for each patient depending on which changes have occurred in the cells in their cancer.
One of the important benefits of this type of study is that in the future doctors will be able to identify patients who do not need the more aggressive therapies, which in themselves carry certain risks. The discovery also opens the possibility of designing drugs to target these specific alterations and curing more people of this particular cancer."