Mayo Clinic bone marrow cancer study uncovers potential new drug targets


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Newly published research from Mayo Clinic's Center for Individualized Medicine shows that patients with ASXL1-mutant chronic myelomonocytic leukemia possess distinctive epigenetic alterations that can trigger harmful genes and accelerate the cancer’s growth. ASXL1-mutant chronic myelomonocytic leukemia is a rare form of bone marrow cancer that can also turn into more aggressive acute myeloid leukemia.

Published in Nature Communications, the study found that:

  • ASXL1 mutations are associated with the overexpression of key genes that drive leukemia.
  • Approximately 40% of patients with chronic myelomonocytic leukemia have a mutation in the ASXL1 gene.
  • The epigenome in patients with ASXL1 gene mutations is changed in such a way that it allows cancer cells to activate genes that speed up the cancer’s growth.

Moritz Binder, M.D., a Mayo Clinic hematologist who led the study, says the study and its results not only add to the knowledge of ASXL1 gene expression, but will also help guide potential new therapeutic strategies for patients.

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Samantha Rossi (@srossi3)

Samantha Rossi