In Sweden, specialists in the study identified 2 new types of blood cancer that develop in children. Specialists studied cancer cells in children with leukemia (more than 200 children participated in the study) and used a new technology - sequencing - to better study the genome of newly emerging atypical cells.
The most common form of cancer in children is acute lymphoblastic leukemia, which is now quite successfully treated, but the child's organism undergoes significant interventions and there is a high risk of developing serious adverse reactions. Specialists need to make distinctions between the different types of this disease in order to prescribe treatment taking into account the severity of the disease in each individual case, in addition, it will help to identify possible cases of recurrence of the disease.
Like other forms of cancer, childhood leukemia is associated with a mutation of genes that begin to occur in healthy cells, and turn them into atypical ones.
Identification of critical changes in healthy cancer cells is essential for understanding the mechanism of disease development and developing effective therapies. In their work, scientists used a new research method - sequencing, through which they were able to study the changes occurring in cancerous cells of the blood well, and as a result revealed new types of blood cancer.
One of the new types of cancer develops if the inactive DUX4 gene is activated, the second in its symptoms resembles the previously known form of childhood leukemia, only the cause of the disease in completely different genetic mutations occurring in the blood cells.
In earlier studies of childhood forms of blood cancer, scientists have identified 6 major forms of childhood leukemia, new types of blood cancer are found in 10% of cases. The researchers themselves noted that the work was intense and lengthy, and it would be difficult to achieve meaningful results without the help of specialists from other research institutes in Sweden and Germany. Experts suggest that the work was done well, and the results of the study will not only improve the methods of diagnosing the disease, but also develop new methods for treating various forms of blood cancer in children.
Acute lymphoblastic leukemia is a malignant disease of the hematopoiesis system. During the development of the disease, immature lymphoid cells begin to multiply uncontrolled (these cells represent the precursors of lymphocytes - the main cells of our immune system). The disease occurs in childhood and adolescence, but most often the disease develops in children from 1 to 6 years.
The development of the disease is accompanied by the defeat of lymph nodes, bone marrow and some internal organs.
The causes of the disease have not been established to date, but some experts believe that one of the factors may be infectious diseases borne in infancy, as well as the effects of various mutagens on the mother's body during childbearing (X-rays, radiation therapy, viruses, ). Also, the relationship between the development of the disease and congenital anomalies of chromosomes was confirmed.