Genetic link to common form of leukaemia discovered
1 September 2008 00:00 in Industry related health news
A genetic susceptibility to the most common form of leukaemia has been discovered.
Chronic lymphocytic leukaemia (CLL) is a slowly-progressing form of the disease, and is found in around 2,750 people in the UK every year.
Anecdotal evidence has suggested that inherited factors could have a role in the development of CLL, no genetic basis had been discovered.
But new research - principally funded by Leukaemia Research with additional funding from Cancer Research UK and carried out at The Institute of Cancer Research - could lead to improved treatment for CLL patients after scientists discovered variation in certain genes can explain part of the inherited susceptibility to develop the disease.
Professor Richard Houlston and his team at The Institute of Cancer Research compared DNA from CLL patients with DNA from a healthy group and found six genes with variations in their genetic sequences that are strongly associated with the development of CLL.
"Each of these variations, by itself, has a very small effect on the risk of developing CLL, but when all of them are present there is a significantly increased risk of leukaemia," Professor Houlston said.
"Now that we have this evidence we can carry out studies to determine exactly how the different genes contribute to this risk. "
Professor John Gribben, a Cancer Research UK clinical expert at Barts and The London School of Medicine, said the study's findings were "intriguing".
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