In a study soon to be released at the American Society of Hematology conference, two teams of Boston area international researchers have announced the discovery of a gene mutation that appears to be a predictor of leukemia, lymphoma and other blood diseases. The study was published last week in the New England Journal of Medicine. Researchers decoded the DNA of approximately 30,000 individuals to arrive at this discovery. Dr. Benjamin Ebert from Boston’s Brigham and Women’s Hospital, one of the study leaders, said that researchers hope that this discovery will lead to an effective screening test that will enable doctors to identify at risk individuals and initiate early prevention therapies.
Approximately 140,000 people a year in the US are diagnosed with blood cancer. While all cancers are caused by defective genes, not all defective genes are inherited. The gene mutation discovered by the research teams appears to build up over time. For example, in research subjects under the age of 40, the mutation was rarely found, but it was found in 10 percent of subjects over the age of 65 and in almost 20 percent of subjects over the age of 90. Read the rest of this entry →