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The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society (LLS) is always excited to learn about the new discoveries our funded researchers are making. Ari Melnick, M.D., of Cornell Weill Medical College, has been working on ways to test thousands of genes at the same time for a recently recognized type of abnormality called methylation. He has been able to apply these state-of-the-art tests towards understanding the causes and better predicting the treatment-sensitivity of leukemias and lymphomas. Dr. Melnick is the senior author of a report published this month in the prestigious scientific journal, Cancer Cell and highlighted in the research commentaries in January issues of the LLS e-newsletters. Here is the summary of that article, entitled “DNA Methylation Signatures Identify Biologically Distinct Subtypes in Acute Myeloid Leukemia”:


We hypothesized that DNA methylation distributes into specific patterns in cancer cells, which reflect critical biological differences. We therefore examined the methylation profiles of 344 patients with acute myeloid leukemia (AML). Clustering of these patients by methylation data segregated patients into 16 groups. Five of these groups defined new AML subtypes that shared no other known feature. In addition, DNA methylation profiles segregated patients with CEBPA aberrations from other subtypes of leukemia, defined four epigenetically distinct forms of AML with NPM1 mutations, and showed that established AML1-ETO, CBFb-MYH11, and PML-RARA leukemia entities are associated with specific methylation profiles. We report a 15-gene methylation classifier predictive of overall survival in an independent patient cohort (p < 0.001, adjusted for known covariates).


Quest Diagnostics’ sponsorship and fundraising work on behalf of LLS has enabled us to support Dr. Melnick’s breakthrough work. We appreciate the time and energy their employees have given to help make this important research happen.


Learn more about this and other research by reading the January 2010 Commentary, written by Deborah Banker, Vice President, Research Communications, and learn more about acute myelogenous leukemia (also known as acute myeloid leukemia).


Have questions about blood cancer or LLS-funded research? Talk to one of our information specialists at 1-800-955-4572.


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