Korean researchers said they have discovered a biomarker to predict a therapy response more precisely in patients with chronic myeloid leukemia, which they said was for the first time in the world.
The Korea Health Industry Development Institute said a study by Kim Jong-won, a professor at the Department of Laboratory Medicine and Genetics, Samsung Medical Center, and his research team discovered the first predictive biomarker that can predict the deep molecular response (DMR) of leukemia genes for the first time in the world.
|Professor Kim Jong-won of the Department of Laboratory Medicine and Genetics at Samsung Medical Center|
The research laid the groundwork for the development of objective guidelines for discontinuation of drug administration, it added.
DMR refers to a condition in which almost no BCR-ABL gene, the primary cause of chronic myeloid leukemia, is detected.
Chronic myeloid leukemia is a type of cancer of white blood cells caused by the abnormal proliferation of hematopoietic stem cells. Imatinib (brand name: Glivec) is a representative therapy for chronic myeloid leukemia
Imatinib is a targeted therapy that selectively inhibits the Philadelphia chromosome gene BCR-ABL, which appears in over 90 percent of patients with chronic myeloid leukemia.
However, there was no biomarker to predict the recurrence of the disease in patients who do not show a therapeutic response after the imatinib administration.
Physicians have relied only on their empirical judgment to decide whether to discontinue the treatment.
Kim’s research team monitored and analyzed the genome data of 471 patients of Korean and European descent who were taking imatinib for about five years, and verified study results through gene control.
The study showed that patients, whose cancer-causing BCR-ABL gene was consistently detected, had an association with a particular genotype of HMGCLL1, a mutation gene in chromosome 6 which the team newly discovered.
“Chronic myeloid leukemia requires years-long medication, so we need a biomarker to predict the possibility of recurrence. I hope this study can contribute to the functional cure of leukemia by stopping the medication safely and a reduction of the high medical expenses,” Kim said.
The researchers conducted the study with the support of the Ministry of Health and Welfare’s program to develop technologies overcoming diseases. The study has been published on the latest issue of Leukemia, one of the leading hematology journals.