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Pre-Leukemic Cells

February 27, 2008

Scientists have identified precancerous cells that give rise to a form of childhood leukemia.


Tracking leukemia’s source. I’m Bob Hirshon and this is Science Update.

Researchers in Britain have found the wellspring of the most common form of childhood leukemia. Biologist Tariq Enver of the Medical Research Council in Oxford was on the team. By studying a set of identical twins – one with leukemia and one healthy – Enver and his colleagues pinpointed a small cadre of pre-cancerous cells in both twins that resembled the cancer cells.

TARIQ ENVER (Medical Research Council, Oxford, England):
They have the same sort of cell surface markers, which allow us to identify cells, but they’re different because we know that leukemia, like many cancers, requires many different genetic mutations to occur.

The pre-cancerous cells had only one mutation and couldn’t yet cause the disease. Identifying these ‘pre-leukemia’ cells may lead to new therapies that attack leukemia at the roots. I’m Bob Hirshon for AAAS, the science society.