Molecule marks leukemia cells

From Atlanta, at a meeting of the American Society of Hematology

Researchers can now tag individual malignant cells in the bone marrow of patients with acute myeloid leukemia. Using an antibody that latches on to a newfound marker on the surface of the cancerous cells, the scientists can assess the cells’ abundance following chemotherapy and predict how well each patient will fare.

Gerrit Jan Schuurhuis of the Free University Medical Center in Amsterdam and his colleagues recently identified the new marker, called C-type lectin-like molecule-1 or CLL-1, in 92 percent of people with a form of acute myeloid leukemia. It appears only on the type of bone-marrow cell that goes awry in that disease.

The researchers used their new technique to measure CLL-1 in the marrow of 89 patients whose leukemia was in remission. The molecule’s abundance correlated with a patient’s odds of later relapsing.

“These molecules may be not only a means to identify but also to target and destroy” malignant cells, comments James N. George of the University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center in Oklahoma City.

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