Philadelphia chromosome-like acute lymphoblastic leukemia (Ph-like ALL) is a subgroup of the most common form of childhood cancer, with features including high relapse rate and poor survival. Ph-like ALL accounts for 15% of all childhood ALL. And now, for close to half of children diagnosed with this disease, the genetic variance that causes the cancer to grow has been identified!
By using cutting edge genetic profiling, Dr. Charles Mullighan, M.D., Ph.D., associate member of the St. Jude Department of Pathology, led a team of researchers to identify, for the first time, the genetic alterations linked to the growth of leukemia cells in this type of cancer. Furthermore, they found that existing targeted drugs, imatinib (Gleevec) and dasatinib, currently used in therapies for other types of leukemias (including Philadelphia chromosome positive ALL) could block cell growth.
How the St. Baldrick’s Foundation helped:
Dr. Mullighan is a recipient of a St. Baldrick’s Scholar Grant, which has enabled him to focus on three key ALL research projects, one of them being this study.
The St. Baldrick’s Foundation annual grant to the Children’s Oncology Group (COG) also helped fund the most recent COG trial that was a part of Dr. Mullighan’s research.
What this means for kids with Ph-like ALL:
“This work has found potential ways to identify children with this high-risk leukemia, and direct them to targeted treatments that may improve outcome,” said Dr. Mullighan.
What this means for all kids with cancer:
We can now see the power of detailed genomic analysis to tailor therapies to individual patients – an approach that can impact all cancer types.
Research does make a difference, and you can make it possible. Make a donation today.