Acute myeloid leukemia (AML) and acute lymphoid leukemia (ALL) start in different types of blood cells. The diseases need distinct treatments.
In about 4% of cases it is hard to tell AML from ALL. That makes diagnosis and treatment challenging.
Scientists at St. Jude and the Munich Leukemia Laboratory took a “big data” approach to understand the drivers of these ambiguous cases of leukemia. They gathered 2,573 acute leukemia samples from three continents. They looked for unknown DNA alterations that cause the disease.
The scientists found a new subtype of leukemia. It is driven by rearrangements that deregulate a gene called BCL11B.
About 30% of hard-to-classify leukemia cases are this subtype.
Cancer Discovery published a report on this work.