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Articles - July/August 2013
Monday, July 08, 2013

BY LINDA BAKER

0713 NextIn another win for the revolution that is DNA sequencing, researchers at Oregon Health & Science University have identified the genetic mutation that causes two rare forms of leukemia. The discovery was especially heartening since it turns out existing FDA-approved therapies can be used to treat both diseases. The research involved a two-pronged, out-of-the-box approach: DNA sequencing of specimens from patients to identify gene mutations, along with the testing of 140 drugs on the patients’ cancerous tissues. Researchers typically test drug therapies on “immortalized cell lines,” says Jeff Tyner, an assistant professor with the OHSU Knight Cancer Institute and Cell & Developmental Biology department. “We’ve developed the technology to do it directly on the tumor, which is more relevant to the actual patients.” The simultaneous drug-testing/gene-sequencing approach allowed scientists to identify two therapies that were effective on the mutation that causes chronic neutrophilic leukemia (CNL) and atypical chronic myeloid leukemia (aCML) in some patients. The next step is to embark on a clinical trial to treat more people suffering from the diseases. So far, the few patients who have received treatment “have had really dramatic and durable responses,” says Tyner. “It looks very exciting.” 

 

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