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Genes for acute myeloid leukaemia

5 April 2011

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Category: Research & medical benefits

invitro–myeloid– leukaemia.jpgScientists have identified three types of gene mutation that lead to acute myeloid leukaemia. The finding could lead to new treatments for the disease.

Two newly discovered mutations were found to cooperate with the most common gene mutation in acute myeloid leukaemia, called Npm1, to cause the disease.

2000 adults in the UK are diagnosed with acute myeloid leukaemia every year. The disease results from the out-of-control production of abnormal white blood cells. These blood cells don't function properly, increasing the risk of infections and taking up space needed by red blood cells. The disease progresses rapidly and is often fatal within weeks if left untreated.

Researchers created mice with the Npm1 gene mutation. This enabled normal blood cells to renew more efficiently. Self-renewal of cells can lead to cancer if not properly controlled. However, only a third of these GM-mice went on to develop acute myeloid leukaemia, suggesting that other mutations are involved in the disease.

Researchers then mutated genes in the mice at random to find other genes that could contribute to acute myeloid leukaemia. They identified two other genes that work together with Npm1 to cause the disease. These genes affect cell growth and division and control the activity of genes in cells.

Understanding the different processes leading to acute myeloid leukaemia will help scientists to develop new medicines for the disease.

Read more about animals in cancer research here.