Gene discovered to fight acute myelogenous leukemia

A team of researchers has identified a gene that can neutralize this form of tumor characterized by chromosomal lesions of the MLL gene. Here are the details of the survey


Research takes a step forward in the fight acute marrow leukemia. A team of researchers from the John Paul II Institute of Hematology, led by Giacomo Volpe, in collaboration with the University of Birmingham School of Medicine (UK), South China University of Technology (Guangzhou, China) and the University of Barry, discovered a gene that can neutralize this form of cancer characterized by chromosomal lesions of the MLL gene.

This pathology develops in the bone marrow, the spongy tissue contained in some bones, but ends up affecting the blood, lymphatic system and other organs of our body. The term “acute” refers to the very rapid rate of progression. This means that generally a few weeks or even a few days pass between the progression of the disease and the appearance of the first symptoms.

In addition, leukemia cells can spread throughout the body, accumulating in certain organs of the body and thereby causing new tumor masses.
The pathology manifests itself in the form fatigue and easy fatigue, general malaise, osteoarticular pain, weight loss, excessive sweating, pale skin color, shortness of breath, fever and frequent risk of infections. In addition, the decrease in the number of healthy blood cells, and especially platelets, favors the appearance bleeding in different areas of the body (bleeding from the nose or gums, or bruising under the skin).

Giacomo Volpe, research team coordinator of the Leukemia Laboratory Unit, which belongs to the Hematology complex operational unit, explains the results of this study. “It turned out that, genetically reactivating Mafb gene expression, normally silenced in leukemic cells with these lesions, reprogramming of the neoplastic cells is achieved leading to the cessation of uncontrolled proliferation and simultaneous induction of maturation in myeloid cells.” The importance of this discovery is given by the fact that “leukemias characterized by MLL gene rearrangements constitute a subgroup of hematological neoplasms for which, at present, few therapeutic options are available.”

It is not yet clear what causes it genetic mutation although several risk factors have been identified, such as exposure to benzene (a chemical found in, for example, petrol and cigarettes) and radiation, certain genetic and blood diseases, and previous cancer treatments.

December 1, 2023

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