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Zebrafish may point the way toward genes responsible for T cell leukemia

Scientists hunting for genes responsible for acute lymphoblastic leukemia have a new compass: a system that uses powerful genetic techniques in a zebrafish model. Researchers report they have created a zebrafish model that will help scientists pinpoint genes that accelerate or delay the spread of T cell acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL), a disease responsible for 400 deaths – about half of them, children – in the United States each year. The model may also provide a faster, more direct way of testing novel drugs against the disease.

Gene signature identifies leukemia patients who should avoid transplants

An international team of researchers has used a gene test to identify certain patients with adult T-cell acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL) who can be successfully treated with chemotherapy alone and should not be subjected to the rigors of bone marrow transplants. The researchers found that these patients survived for at least three years after being treated with intensive chemotherapy. It was previously known that only slightly over half of the patients with this disease could be cured with chemotherapy. Adult ALL patients often undergo transplants in an effort to beat back the stubborn disease. Until now there was no way to identify those who have a more favorable outlook and shouldn’t undergo risky bone marrow transplantation.