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1.  The role of the RAS pathway in iAMP21-ALL 
Leukemia  2016;30(9):1824-1831.
Intrachromosomal amplification of chromosome 21 (iAMP21) identifies a high-risk subtype of acute lymphoblastic leukaemia (ALL), requiring intensive treatment to reduce their relapse risk. Improved understanding of the genomic landscape of iAMP21-ALL will ascertain whether these patients may benefit from targeted therapy. We performed whole-exome sequencing of eight iAMP21-ALL samples. The mutation rate was dramatically disparate between cases (average 24.9, range 5–51) and a large number of novel variants were identified, including frequent mutation of the RAS/MEK/ERK pathway. Targeted sequencing of a larger cohort revealed that 60% (25/42) of diagnostic iAMP21-ALL samples harboured 42 distinct RAS pathway mutations. High sequencing coverage demonstrated heterogeneity in the form of multiple RAS pathway mutations within the same sample and diverse variant allele frequencies (VAFs) (2–52%), similar to other subtypes of ALL. Constitutive RAS pathway activation was observed in iAMP21 samples that harboured mutations in the predominant clone (⩾35% VAF). Viable iAMP21 cells from primary xenografts showed reduced viability in response to the MEK1/2 inhibitor, selumetinib, in vitro. As clonal (⩾35% VAF) mutations were detected in 26% (11/42) of iAMP21-ALL, this evidence of response to RAS pathway inhibitors may offer the possibility to introduce targeted therapy to improve therapeutic efficacy in these high-risk patients.
PMCID: PMC5017527  PMID: 27168466
4.  Long-term outcome of patients with newly diagnosed chronic myeloid leukemia: a randomized comparison of stem cell transplantation with drug treatment 
Leukemia  2015;30(3):562-569.
Tyrosine kinase inhibitors represent today's treatment of choice in chronic myeloid leukemia (CML). Allogeneic hematopoietic stem cell transplantation (HSCT) is regarded as salvage therapy. This prospective randomized CML-study IIIA recruited 669 patients with newly diagnosed CML between July 1997 and January 2004 from 143 centers. Of these, 427 patients were considered eligible for HSCT and were randomized by availability of a matched family donor between primary HSCT (group A; N=166 patients) and best available drug treatment (group B; N=261). Primary end point was long-term survival. Survival probabilities were not different between groups A and B (10-year survival: 0.76 (95% confidence interval (CI): 0.69–0.82) vs 0.69 (95% CI: 0.61–0.76)), but influenced by disease and transplant risk. Patients with a low transplant risk showed superior survival compared with patients with high- (P<0.001) and non-high-risk disease (P=0.047) in group B; after entering blast crisis, survival was not different with or without HSCT. Significantly more patients in group A were in molecular remission (56% vs 39% P=0.005) and free of drug treatment (56% vs 6% P<0.001). Differences in symptoms and Karnofsky score were not significant. In the era of tyrosine kinase inhibitors, HSCT remains a valid option when both disease and transplant risk are considered.
PMCID: PMC4777774  PMID: 26464170
5.  An international study of intrachromosomal amplification of chromosome 21 (iAMP21): cytogenetic characterization and outcome 
Leukemia  2013;28(5):1015-1021.
Intrachromosomal amplification of chromosome 21 (iAMP21) defines a distinct cytogenetic subgroup of childhood B-cell precursor acute lymphoblastic leukaemia (BCP-ALL). To date, fluorescence in situ hybridisation (FISH), with probes specific for the RUNX1 gene, provides the only reliable detection method (five or more RUNX1 signals per cell). Patients with iAMP21 are older (median age 9 years) with a low white cell count. Previously, we demonstrated a high relapse risk when these patients were treated as standard risk. Recent studies have shown improved outcome on intensive therapy. In view of these treatment implications, accurate identification is essential. Here we have studied the cytogenetics and outcome of 530 iAMP21 patients that highlighted the association of specific secondary chromosomal and genetic changes with iAMP21 to assist in diagnosis, including the gain of chromosome X, loss or deletion of chromosome 7, ETV6 and RB1 deletions. These iAMP21 patients when treated as high risk showed the same improved outcome as those in trial-based studies regardless of the backbone chemotherapy regimen given. This study reinforces the importance of intensified treatment to reduce the risk of relapse in iAMP21 patients. This now well-defined patient subgroup should be recognised by World Health Organisation (WHO) as a distinct entity of BCP-ALL.
PMCID: PMC4283797  PMID: 24166298
iAMP21; genetics; outcome; poor prognosis; BCP-ALL; chromosomal abnormalities
6.  BAALC expression: a suitable marker for prognostic risk stratification and detection of residual disease in cytogenetically normal acute myeloid leukemia 
Blood Cancer Journal  2014;4(1):e173-.
High brain and acute leukemia, cytoplasmic (BAALC) expression defines an important risk factor in cytogenetically normal acute myeloid leukemia (CN-AML). The prognostic value of BAALC expression in relation to other molecular prognosticators was analyzed in 326 CN-AML patients (<65 years). At diagnosis, high BAALC expression was associated with prognostically adverse mutations: FLT3 internal tandem duplication (FLT3-ITD) with an FLT3-ITD/FLT3 wild-type (wt) ratio of ⩾0.5 (P=0.001), partial tandem duplications within the MLL gene (MLL-PTD) (P=0.002), RUNX1 mutations (mut) (P<0.001) and WT1mut (P=0.001), while it was negatively associated with NPM1mut (P<0.001). However, high BAALC expression was also associated with prognostically favorable biallelic CEBPA (P=0.001). Survival analysis revealed an independent adverse prognostic impact of high BAALC expression on overall survival (OS) and event-free survival (EFS), and also on OS when eliminating the effect of allogeneic stem cell transplantation (SCT) (OSTXcens). Furthermore, we analyzed BAALC expression in 416 diagnostic and follow-up samples of 66 patients. During follow-up, BAALC expression correlated with mutational load or expression levels, respectively, of other minimal residual disease markers: FLT3-ITD (r=0.650, P<0.001), MLL-PTD (r=0.728, P<0.001), NPM1mut (r=0.599, P<0.001) and RUNX1mut (r=0.889, P<0.001). Moreover, a reduction in BAALC expression after the second cycle of induction chemotherapy was associated with improved EFS. Thus, our data underline the utility of BAALC expression as a marker for prognostic risk stratification and detection of residual disease in CN-AML.
PMCID: PMC3913940  PMID: 24413067
BAALC expression; CN-AML; prognosis; MRD
9.  Gene expression profiling for the diagnosis of acute leukaemia 
British Journal of Cancer  2006;96(4):535-540.
An optimised diagnostic setting in acute leukaemias combines cytomorphology and cytochemistry, multiparameter immunophenotyping, cytogenetics, fluorescence in situ hybridisation, and polymerase chain reaction (PCR)-based assays. This allows classification and definition of biologically defined and prognostically relevant subtypes, and allows directed treatment in some subentities. Over the last years the microarray technology has helped to quantify simultaneously the expression status of ten thousands of genes in single experiments. This novel approach will hopefully become an essential tool for the molecular classification of acute leukaemias in the near future. It can be anticipated that new biologically defined and clinically relevant subtypes of leukaemia will be identified based on their unique gene expression profiles. This method may therefore guide therapeutic decisions and should be investigated in a diagnostic setting in parallel to established standard methods.
PMCID: PMC2360048  PMID: 17146476
microarray analysis; gene expression profiling; acute leukaemia; diagnosis
10.  Landscape of genetic lesions in 944 patients with myelodysplastic syndromes 
Leukemia  2013;28(2):241-247.
High-throughput DNA sequencing significantly contributed to diagnosis and prognostication in patients with myelodysplastic syndromes (MDS). We determined the biological and prognostic significance of genetic aberrations in MDS. In total, 944 patients with various MDS subtypes were screened for known/putative mutations/deletions in 104 genes using targeted deep sequencing and array-based genomic hybridization. In total, 845/944 patients (89.5%) harbored at least one mutation (median, 3 per patient; range, 0–12). Forty-seven genes were significantly mutated with TET2, SF3B1, ASXL1, SRSF2, DNMT3A, and RUNX1 mutated in >10% of cases. Many mutations were associated with higher risk groups and/or blast elevation. Survival was investigated in 875 patients. By univariate analysis, 25/48 genes (resulting from 47 genes tested significantly plus PRPF8) affected survival (P<0.05). The status of 14 genes combined with conventional factors revealed a novel prognostic model (‘Model-1') separating patients into four risk groups (‘low', ‘intermediate', ‘high', ‘very high risk') with 3-year survival of 95.2, 69.3, 32.8, and 5.3% (P<0.001). Subsequently, a ‘gene-only model' (‘Model-2') was constructed based on 14 genes also yielding four significant risk groups (P<0.001). Both models were reproducible in the validation cohort (n=175 patients; P<0.001 each). Thus, large-scale genetic and molecular profiling of multiple target genes is invaluable for subclassification and prognostication in MDS patients.
PMCID: PMC3918868  PMID: 24220272
next-generation sequencing; molecular markers; myelodysplastic syndromes; prognostic score

Results 1-10 (10)