Leukemia - a malignant disease of the hematopoieticsystems affecting first the bone marrow, and subsequently the whole organism. Despite the fact that the disease can occur in both an adult and a child, some types of leukemia are most often diagnosed in the children's body. According to official statistics, leukemia, which disrupts the normal growth of cells in the blood and bone marrow, occupies almost a third of all cancer cases in children. Why does leukemia so often occur precisely in childhood and is there a universal vaccine for the treatment of this type of cancer?
Why is leukemia considered a childhood disease?
According to the portal livescience.com, existing forms of childhood leukemia have many similarities with similar forms of blood cancer in adults. Despite this, scientists believe that childhood leukemia does not have common genetic roots with adult cancers. So, some studies prove that specific genetic features observed in cancer cells in children can occur at a very young age or even in the womb, but scientists have not been able to find out exactly how this happens.
In a study that was conducted forIn order to find out why some forms of leukemia can affect only young and immature cells, a team of scientists collected genetic samples of young patients with the most aggressive form of acute myeloid leukemia (AML) and reproduced the disease in mice. A study published in the journal Cancer Discovery, gives scientists several theories about the cause of cancer in childhood, which most often occurs before children reach the age of two.
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Despite the fact that AML is morea common disease in adults than in children, a rare subtype called "acute myeloid leukemia type 7" (AML-M7) is manifested mainly in young children. Other forms of AML appear in children much later, often at the age of 6 years, showing better survival compared to other more aggressive subtypes.
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In a study conducted earlier, the teamexperts collected cells from those children and adults who had cancer of the AML-M7 subtype. After analyzing cancer cells between adults and children, experts found a key difference between their genetic materials. So, many children's cells contained genes that were interconnected in an absolutely chaotic order, forming new hybrid genes. Scientists have suggested that individually, such genes have a key role in the development of blood cells, but being "stuck together" genes can redirect cells to the formation of proteins unusual for the body, turning, eventually, into cancer cells. At the same time, none of these Frankenstein genes appeared in any adult leukemic cell, forcing researchers to continue to study such a phenomenon and to identify the effect of the gene that provokes fusion on those stem cells that were inhibited by the disease.
During the study, scientists were able to developa special model that allows you to regulate the gene mutation in the tissue inside the mouse body. After the experiment, scientists were able to find out that the fusion gene affects the cells in different ways, depending on the stage of their development. At that moment, when scientists activated ETO2-GLIS2 in the fetal stem cells, the resulting protein affected the cell pathways that normally create healthy blood cells. The hybrid gene acted as a “molecular” switch that turned stem cells into aggressive leukemia.
After scientists blocked the mutatedthe gene in the same embryonic mice, the cancer stopped growing, and the stem cells were able to produce healthy blood cells again. At the same time, adult cells looked less prone to leukemia even when the gene was activated, which suggests that the main difference between leukemia in children and leukemia in adults can be the bone marrow itself, or rather its malfunctioning.
Correct interpretation of the results ofResearch may shed light on how exactly humanity will one day be able to cope with a terrible disease that claimed the lives of a huge number of children. Let us hope that this will happen in the very near future.