Leukemia Cancer Research

Researchers continue to develop new treatments for blood cancer while increasing their understanding of the disease. Leukemia cancer research increasingly focuses on understanding the genetic causes of leukemia, while new treatments are under development that specifically target leukemia cells.

Clinical Cancer Research and Survival Rates

A 2010 European clinical cancer research paper published in The Lancet Oncology medical journal compared survival rates between stem cell transplantation and bone marrow transplant patients. The study tracked 329 leukemia patients who underwent treatment between 1995 and 1999.

After 10 years, the survival rates for peripheral blood stem cell transplantation were 49.1 percent. Ten-year survival rates for bone marrow transplantation were 56.5 percent: higher than stem cell transplantation, but not significantly so.

The results of this study may help patients and doctors choose between stem cell and bone marrow transplants. For example, in patients with acute myeloid leukemia, survival rates were higher for those who had a bone marrow transplant instead of a stem cell transplant. However, patients with chronic myeloid leukemia fared better with stem cell transplants.

Genetic Leukemia Cancer Research

A second study from the Institute of Cancer Research (2010), a European leukemia research foundation, reported the discovery of four new genetic variants that increase the risk of chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL), the most common leukemia in adults.

The finding brings the number of genetic variants known to increase the risk of CLL to 10. Such findings increase clinical researchers’ understanding of the genetics of CLL. The presence of genetic risk factors for leukemia could eventually lead to screening tests for people with family histories of leukemia.

Childhood Leukemia Research

In Australia, childhood leukemia research findings have identified cells in the thymus gland that may cause childhood T-cell acute lymphoblastic leukemia, a treatment-resistant form of leukemia with high rates of relapse. A team of scientists working at the Royal Melbourne Hospital and the University of Melbourne made the discovery in 2010.

The cells were discovered in studies on mice. While radiation killed up to 99 percent of the cells in the thymus, these particular cells not only survived, but they recovered quickly. The cells are similar to stem cells, which may explain their unusual resilience.

The findings could have a significant impact on childhood leukemia research. Clinical cancer research can now focus on developing targeted treatments that affect these specific cells while leaving healthy cells undamaged.

Clinical Cancer Research Trials

Clinical cancer research trials often require volunteers. If you’re interested in leukemia clinical trials, contact a leukemia research foundation or visit the clinical trials page for more information.

Resources

Friedrichs, B. (2010). Long-term outcome and late effects in patients transplanted with mobilized blood or bone marrow: A randomized trial. Retrieved March 22, 2010, from http://www.thelancet.com/journals/lanonc/article/PIIS1470-2045(09)70352-3/fulltext.

Kelland, K. (2010). Scientists find new leukemia gene risk factors. Retrieved March 16, 2010, from http://www.reuters.com/article/idUSTRE6091HR20100110.

Medical News Today. (2010). Discovery of cells critical to childhood leukemia. Retrieved March 16, 2010, from http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/176853.php.

Preidt, R. (2010). Stem cell, bone marrow transplants both benefit leukemia patients. Retrieved March 16, 2010, from http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/news/fullstory_94762.html.