Leukemia Research Paper

Leukemia Research Paper-80
Professor Greaves suggests childhood ALL is a paradox of progress in modern societies -- with lack of microbial exposure early in life resulting in immune system malfunction.

Professor Greaves suggests childhood ALL is a paradox of progress in modern societies -- with lack of microbial exposure early in life resulting in immune system malfunction.

His studies of identical twins with ALL showed that two 'hits' or mutations were required.

The first arises in one twin in the womb but produces a population of pre-malignant cells that spread to the other twin via their shared blood supply.

Population studies have found that early exposure to infection in infancy such as day care attendance and breast feeding can protect against ALL, most probably by priming the immune system.

This suggests that childhood ALL may be preventable.

Eighteen patients were treated, 8 for first remission consolidation, 4 with relapse sensitive disease, 3 primary refractory and 3 relapsed refractory.

The median age was 56 (38 - 65) and the median number of prior regimens was 3 (1 - 8).

Instead, he presented strong evidence for a 'delayed infection' theory for the cause of ALL, in which early infection is beneficial to prime the immune system, but later infection in the absence of earlier priming can trigger leukemia.

Professor Greaves suggests that childhood leukemia, in common with type I diabetes, other autoimmune diseases and allergies, might be preventable if a child's immune system is properly 'primed' in the first year of life -- potentially sparing children the trauma and life-long consequences of chemotherapy.

Professor Mel Greaves, Director of the Centre for Evolution and Cancer at The Institute of Cancer Research, London, said: "I have spent more than 40 years researching childhood leukemia, and over that time there has been huge progress in our understanding of its biology and its treatment -- so that today around 90 per cent of cases are cured.

But it has always struck me that something big was missing, a gap in our knowledge -- why or how otherwise healthy children develop leukemia and whether this cancer is preventable.


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