The Latest in St. Jude Research on Blood Cancers and Blood Disorders

According to a story from EurekAlert!, the 60th Annual Meeting of the American Society of Hematology featured a number of different presentations of the latest research from St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. The findings range from leukemia, beta thalassemia, hemophilia B, and sickle cell disease. 

Acute Erythroid Leukemia

One study will highlight the latest research findings for acute erythroid leukemia (AEL), which is a rare variant of acute myeloid leukemia. It can appear in both children and adults and tends to have a bad prognosis. The research has revealed the genetic origins for this rare and dangerous blood cancer and has also identified five separate subtypes of AEL that appear at different ages. They also have unique genetic characteristics and overall rates of survival. The scientists also used mouse models of the disease in order to determine that these different subtypes often do not respond in the same manner to treatment. One treatment which is effective for one may not work for another and vice-versa.

Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia

In another study, researchers found that people with a distinct genetic variant affecting the ARID5B gene have their risk of pediatric acute lymphoblastic leukemia increase by two times. The protein that is associated with this gene happens to play an important role in the production and development of blood cells. B-cell acute lymphoblastic leukemia is the most prevalent pediatric cancer, and ARID5B variants were also associated with worse prognosis. 

Hemophilia & Beta Thalassemia

In an additional research study that will have implications for both hemophilia and beta thalassemia patients, scientists have been observing the manner in which red blood cells make the transition from producing fetal hemoglobin to producing adult hemoglobin, the substance that is critical for transporting oxygen. Prior research has found that boosting fetal hemoglobin can help patients with these disorders find relief from their symptoms. The transition to adult hemoglobin can herald a major increase in symptoms that can be debilitating and highly dangerous. The ultimate goal is to determine if there is a way to reactivate fetal hemoglobin production in these patients.

These are just some of the studies that St. Jude will be presenting at the event. The organization has been hard at work researching pediatric blood cancers and disorders. To learn more about St. Jude, click here.

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