Another Genetic Error Linked to Childhood Leukemia

Researchers find gene variant associated with acute lymphoblastic leukemia

From the WebMD Archives

By Robert Preidt

HealthDay Reporter

THURSDAY, July 9, 2015 (HealthDay News) -- Scientists say they've identified a gene mutation associated with childhood acute lymphoblastic leukemia.

ALL, as acute lymphoblastic leukemia is called, is the most common type of cancer in children.

"This is now the second such syndrome of leukemia susceptibility we have described recently, suggesting that there is a significant proportion of childhood leukemia that is inherited," said study corresponding author Dr. Kenneth Offit, chief of the clinical genetics service at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in New York City.

The mutation is in the gene ETV6, which plays a role in cancers of lymphocytes -- immune cells that circulate in the blood. This gene mutation was found in several children with leukemia who are members of the same family, the research team said.

The mutation causes significant changes in the function of the gene, according to the study recently published in the journal PLoS Genetics.

"This discovery continues to provide insight into inherited causes of childhood leukemia. It allows us to prevent such leukemias in future generations," Offit said in a cancer center news release.

Other studies will examine the frequency of inherited ETV6 mutations, and other genetic and non-genetic factors that affect leukemia risk.

The research team previously found a link between childhood leukemia and a gene called PAX5.