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Unraveling the connection between ancestry and cancer

Memphis, Tennessee, February 14, 2019

Corresponding author Jun Yang, Ph.D.

Corresponding author Jun Yang, Ph.D.

Hispanic children in the U.S. are more likely to develop acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL) than other populations. They are also more likely to die of this cancer.

St. Jude researchers want to understand why. They looked for clues in variations in the makeup of genes in children with and without ALL. These differences also helped investigators define patients’ ancestry.

Scientists found variations in a fourth gene that is linked to a 50% increased ALL risk in Hispanic children. The risk was much lower for non-Hispanic children with the variation.

“The more we understand the biology of racial and ethnic differences in cancer, the greater our chances of finding a cure of the disease,” said Jun J. Yang, PhD, of St. Jude Hematological Malignancies Program.

A report on this work appeared in Blood.

Read the news release.

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