McMaster researchers predict early stages of leukemia


Researchers at McMaster University have taken a medical leap in identifying early stages of leukemia and predicting how it will develop.

There has been a giant leap in cancer research right here in Hamilton at McMaster University. How would you like to know if you will develop a form of leukemia before it actually happens?

Well, researchers have discovered a way to predict who develop a lethal form of leukemia called AML, by analyzing blood cells and genes.

AML is the most common type of blood cancer in adults. The study shows that by analyzing genes, doctors can tell which cells will become cancerous. That way a patient can be treated before they’re diagnosed. The head researcher at McMaster says there’s a lot of studies on how to treat cancer once you already have it, but now physicians will look to intervene before it gets to that point.

“We really think that developing some kind of early diagnosis of leukemia is part of what our study will be able to contribute that wasn’t available before and the second thing is we are really excited about developing drugs that target the same set of genes that not only help us predict, but if we can turn those genes down, turn down their levels by using a drug, chemical compound and maybe prevent the leukemia all together is really where we want to see ourselves in the years to come” says Mick Bhatia, who is the principal investigator.

To test their findings, the McMaster team collaborated with Italian researchers and worked with about 50 patients. Their next step is to continue the study in Canada and the US. Then they plan on using the results to create a drug to prevent AML from developing.


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Christy says:

Amazing research and to think this happened in Hamilton! I lost a cousin to leukemia at age 13. It was devasting for the family especially since we had Doctors in the family that diagnosed but couldn’t “fix”.
Imagine a cure – that would be phenomenal!