Researcher Examines Impact of Extra Chromosome on Acute Myeloid Leukemia



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Research Update as of April 17, 2014: 

David Gordon, MD, PhD at Dana Farber Cancer Institute is a CureSearch Young Investigator examining the impact of trisomy 8 on acute myeloid leukemia (AML). Of the 500 children diagnosed with AML each year, between 10-20% of an extra chromosome 8, called trisomy 8.

Dr. Gordon suspects that trisomy 8 contributes to the creation of cancerous cells because certain genes are expressed when an abnormal number of chromosomes are present. Using three cell lines he previously developed, Dr. Gordon spent the first year of his CureSearch grant screening the cell lines for new AML target genes and investigating the impact of trisomy 8 in blood cell development.

In the coming year, Dr. Gordon will explore how these genes, and their interaction with trisomy 8, lead to the development of AML.



Human cells are made of many parts, including chromosomes which are organized structures of DNA. Their job is to help direct the actions of various types of cells. There are 23 chromosomes and normally, each cell contains 2 copies of each chromosome for a total of 46 chromosomes. Scientists have long known that many types of cancer cells show either a gain or loss of specific chromosomes.

In Acute Myeloid Leukemia (AML), a blood cancer that affects approximately 500 children each year, between 10-20% of patients have an extra chromosome 8, referred to as trisomy 8. David Gordon, MD, PhD at Dana Farber Cancer Institute in Boston, MA suspects that trisomy 8 contributes to the creation of cancerous cells because certain genes are expressed when an abnormal number of chromosomes are present. Understanding how these genes come to be present could lead to the development of targeted treatments.

 
  • David Gordon, MD
  • Dana Farber Cancer Institute
 

To conduct his research, Dr. Gordon has developed three cells lines that are identical, except for the absence or presence of an extra chromosome 8. Using these cell lines, he will research the effect of trisomy 8 on the creation and continued growth of AML cells and investigate the relationship between trisomy 8 and specific genes that are known to cause cancer.

Dr. Gordon will also continue previous work examining whether or not AML cells have specific vulnerabilities because of their trisomy 8 status. His hope is that identifying the cells’ weakness will lead to the development of treatments that prevent the leukemia cells from continuing to form.

Dr. Gordon is funded by CureSearch for Children’s Cancer for two years and during this time, will provide updates on his research, which CureSearch looks forward to sharing with you.


 

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