10 January 2023

Scientists have developed a new way of identifying which individuals with clonal haematopoiesis are at increased risk for blood cancer.

Dr Lachelle Weeks of the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, Massachusetts, USA, and colleagues reported they have discovered a way to assess a person’s risk of their clonal haematopoiesis progressing to a myeloid malignancy such as myelodysplastic syndrome or acute myeloid leukaemia.

Weeks and her team analysed data from nearly 200,000 healthy participants of the UK Biobank study. Using gene sequencing methods, they highlighted some specific genetic mutations linked to clonal haematopoiesis.

After combining genetic information with demographic and laboratory test results, they developed an algorithmic tool that they say is “highly predictive of blood cancer risk”. It places individuals into low, intermediate, and high-risk categories. The 10-year risk of blood cancer in the low-risk group is less than 1%, but over 50% for the high-risk group.

The team then went on to validate their results using three additional cohorts.

Findings were reported at the 64th American Society of Hematology (ASH) Annual Meeting.

Dr Weeks said: “We’ve been able to detect clonal haematopoiesis in patients for years now. But this diagnosis often exposes patients to stress and anxiety because it’s unclear who is at highest risk of developing blood cancer. Our tool can help change that.

“This tool allows us to detect the minority of patients with clonal haematopoiesis who are at high-risk for developing blood cancer. That’s really exciting for two reasons - now we can not only estimate patients’ risk and help reduce some of their anxiety and uncertainty, but also take another critical step forward in building out this new field of early detection for blood cancers.”

Source:  64th American Society of Hematology (ASH) Annual Meeting, 12 December 2022


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