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Prevention of Leukemia Relapses:

165,000 Euros for research project to detect minimal residual disease (MRD)

Therapy for leukemia aims at destroying all malignant cells in order to prevent the disease from recurring. However, despite all therapy efforts, some cancer cells are able to survive and can therefore result in recurrence of the disease termed minimal residual disease (MRD) by physicians. When such persistent leukemia cells are detected, treatment can often be redirected and intensified in time to cure the patient. In order to assess whether the treatment has been successful or whether the therapy must be intensified, physicians use flow cytometry and molecular biological methods to analyze blood cells. In flow cytometry, the cells flow in single file through a thin cell-sorting column which utilizes a laser beam to sort cells by size, and interior structure, as well as four additional characteristics marked by antibodies.

Dr. Richard Ratei and Dr. Leonid Karawajew from the

research group of Prof. Wolf-Dieter Ludwig (Robert Rössle Clinic, Charité –

University Medical Center Berlin/Helios Klinikum Berlin and Max Delbrück Center

for Molecular Medicine, MDC, Berlin-Buch) have been testing multiparameter flow

cytometry in patients with acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL). Initial results

indicate that this method can be used in 90 percent of the patients with ALL.

The leukemia specialists are able to detect one leukemia cell among 1,000 or

10,000 healthy cells, respectively. Now, using this technology and in

cooperation with working groups in Vienna (Children’s Cancer Research

Institute, St. Anna Children’s Hospital), Monza (Research Centre M. Tettamanti,

Children’s Hospital, University of Milan Bicocca) and Padua (Laboratory for

Oncohematology, Department of Pediatrics, University of Padua), the prognostic

significance of multiparameter flow cytometry to detect persistent leukemia

cells will be investigated in an international study of children with ALL. Funding

for this research project has been provided by the Wilhelm Sander Foundation

(Neustadt on the Danube/Germany) which awarded the clinicians in Berlin-Buch a

grant of 165,000 Euros for the next two years. Furthermore, for the first time,

they will also isolate individual leukemia cells from the bone marrow or

peripheral blood with the aid of flow cytometry and, using comprehensive

molecular-biological analysis, identify new diagnostic markers and candidate

genes for the development of innovative therapy strategies. ALL is a malignant

disease occurring particularly in children. Currently, nearly 80 percent of

affected children can be cured.

Barbara
Bachtler
Press
and Public Affairs
MaxDelbrück
Center for Molecular Medicine (MDC)
Berlin-Buch
Robert-Rössle-Straße
10
13125 Berlin
Germany
Phone.:
+49 (0) 30 94 06 - 38 96
Fax:  +49 (0) 30 94 06 - 38 33
e-mail:
presse@mdc-berlin.de
http://www.mdc-berlin.de/en/news