02 January 2018

British scientists have announced a new method to predict the outcome of chemotherapy for patients with chronic lymphocytic leukaemia (CLL).

This should help tailor therapy, say Professor Jonathan Strefford and colleagues at Southampton University, UK.

They screened DNA samples from more than 600 treated subjects, to categorise the patients into three epigenetic sub-groups based on their cancer cells. This showed that 20% had a so-called 'memory' epigenetic signature in which one-off chemotherapy can lead to long survival times; 50% had a 'naïve' epigenetic signature that did not respond as well to treatment; and 30% were in an intermediate group.

The difference between the average survival time after chemotherapy in the memory group versus the naïve group was four years (nine years versus five).

Results were announced on 9 December at the Annual Meeting of the American Society of Hematology in Atlanta, USA.

Professor Strefford says: "What we have found is that it is possible to identify patients who will respond extremely well to a one-off course of traditional chemotherapy, which can result in long-term remission and in some cases can be the equivalent to a cure."

Funding came partly from the blood cancer research charity Bloodwise. Director, Dr Alasdair Rankin, commented: "There are an increasing number of effective treatments becoming available for people with chronic lymphocytic leukaemia. The key is to accurately tailor the right treatments to the right patients, as not everyone will respond in the same way.

“This valuable study shows that a fairly significant number of people with chronic lymphocytic leukaemia can still benefit considerably from treatment with conventional chemotherapy."

Source: Clinical Importance of DNA Methylation Signatures in Chronic Lymphocytic Leukaemia Patients Treated with Chemo-Immunotherapy, was presented at the Annual Meeting of the American Society of Hematology in Atlanta at Saturday 9 December 2017

Link: https://ash.confex.com/ash/2017/webprogram/Paper103448.html


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