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.
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.