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CancerKids Health

New Way to Diagnose Leukemia in Paediatric Patients

Researchers at the University of Granada have recently discovered a new way of diagnosing hematological malignancy, acute lymphoblastic leukemia in children by detecting the TCL6 gene expression.

The finding of the study is published in the Blood Cancer Journal.

Lymphoblastic leukemia is one f the most common cancers among children, accounting for almost 20- 30 percent of cancers in children with 300 cases recently diagnosed in Spain yearly.  The average diagnosis age is 6 years old. It is relatively more common in boys.

The incidence rate has been increasing over time. It almost affects 4,000 children every year in the United States. One in three children suffering from cancer has leukemia. The majority of pediatric cases belong to acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL) which is the main focus of the study.

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Acute lymphoblastic leukemia is a biologically and clinically heterogeneous disease that is affected by the changes in chromosomes which may include translocations, aneuploidies, and amplifications. There is an abnormal production of white blood cells. The chromosomal aberrations are important for the sub-classification, diagnosis, prognosis and treatment decisions.

According to the American Cancer Society, the symptoms of childhood leukemia include dizziness, seizures, headaches, cold, and shortness of breath, paler skin, fever, and fatigue. Children who are suffering from leukemia have comparatively low platelet count and high white blood cell count, which are just lymphoblastic leukemia cells and don’t protect from infections.

Scientists took data of children between the age of one to 12 years who were under treatment at two of the Spanish hospitals, the Hospital Sant Joan de Deu and the Hospital Regional de Malaga.

The research team included teaching staff and the researchers from the Biochemistry department, researchers from Biohealth Research Institute and also from the aforementioned two hospitals. The study was conducted at Pfizer University – Government Centre for Genomics and Oncological Research (GENYO).

The authors of the study, Marta Cuadros Celorrio, and Alvaro Andrades Delgado said that if the data are accurate then the TCL6 gene could be the biomarker of the disease that could have great impact patient’s clinical outlook.

The director and coordinator of the CTS-993 research group, Pedro Pablo Madina Vico said that gene presence can also be used for providing prognosis related to the chances of survival. Pediatric cancer patients suffer the loss of TCL6 gene expression and have less survival rate.

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The function TCL6 gene in leukemia remained unnoticed because it is the part of that group of genes that comprise non-coding DNA. Until now most of the non-coding DNA was considered as junk as it has no biological activity and most of the functions are still not known. One of the parts of the research CTS-933 group is the study of such genes that are currently unknown and constitutes a major part of the human genome.

The researchers have identified the TCL6 gene as a novel lncRNA. Experts said that low levels of TCL6 genes are associated with a poor survival rate. Analysis of gene expression complements the current molecular and cytogenetic analysis applied in the diagnosis of lymphoblastic leukemia in children.

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Areeba Hussain

The author is a fulltime medical and healthcare writer. She graduated in Medical Microbiology and Immunology with distinction. Her areas of prime interest are medicine, medical technology, disease awareness, and research analysis. Twitter @Areeba94789300

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