New Research into Leukaemia – AML Cancer Genome

Last week, in the Scientific journal “Nature”. Scientists from the University of Washington in the United States, published a paper called “DNA of a cytogenetically normal acute myeloid leukaemia genome“. The article is published under a creative commons license, so it is free for anyone to read (you don’t need to subscribe to nature.)

The paper is complicated and techical, but it is important! What the scientists have managed to do is compare some normal cells and some cancer cells from the same person and work out what is different. Out of the tens of thousands of genes they discovered 8 genes that were different.

What is important here, is that they compared the patients normal cells to her cancer cells, so they could see what mutations had happened by chance and what mutations were linked to the cancer.

As the scientists point out, they need to do this study on lots of other people with AML so they can work out which mutations are most important (i.e. which mutations make the disease hard to cure or make you more likely to relapse).

*What does cytogenetically (sigh-toe-jin-et-i-cally) mean?  The word “cyto” means cell. The genetically part means they are looking at “genes”. Usually a cytogeneticist (a scientist that specialises in cytogenetics), looks at chromosomes down a microscope. There is a picture of a chromosome at the top of this post, a chromosome is contains DNA, genes are bits of DNA. To learn more about cytogenetics visit this website at the University of Washington, where you can see pictures of human chromosomes.

For more information on AML in adults and children, have a look at the Leukaemia Research Fund webpage, click on the links on the right hand side to download the full booklet.

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3 comments to New Research into Leukaemia – AML Cancer Genome

  • My Dad has AML, Leukemia…and it won’t go away. And now these new leaders of him, the ones who seemingly have held his life ever since this ugly devil of a disease crept into it, they can’t do anything more to make him better. Medically speaking, we’re supposed to give up.

    How do you that? Just give up?

    How do you give up on someone who from all outward appearances is healthy and strong? How do you accept the ending for someone who eagerly anticipates so much more life? How do you close an unfinished story, how do you snuff out an eternal flame?

  • Avril

    I am sorry to hear about your Dad. I’m afraid I don’t have any answers for you. Medical science has a long way to go and I am sorry the doctors feel there is nothing more they can do for him.

    You are right, you can not give up on your Dad, you can help him make the most of his life, talk to him, find out what he likes to do, involve your family and friends as much as you can. Are there any charities in your area that can provide support?

  • [...] Cancer Genome Posted in Laboratory Research, News by Avril Aug 07 2009 TrackBack Address. In November 2008 I wrote about an American laboratory that had sequenced the entire genome of a person with  Acute [...]

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