Childrens Leukemia Treatment

Monday, June 13, 2011 - 7:55am

Doctors discover a gene that makes cancer cells resist chemo drugs.

Lisa Delong takes extra special care of her son Jacob who was diagnosed with leukemia in 2006.

"He was quite sick as just about every child with this disease is initially and without treatment he was certainly in danger of dying rather quickly," said Dr. Stuart Siegal of Children’s Hospital Los Angeles.

Dr. Stuart Siegel says Jacob responded amazingly well to his treatment and Jacob’s been completely well ever since.

But the whole family lives in fear that what happened to Jacob’s older brother Justin will happen to Jacob.

Justin had the same disease and the same good response to treatment as Jacob,
But then he relapsed.

"Justin was the oldest in our family, so when he died at the age of 15, they were old enough to know what was going on," said Lisa Delong, Jacob’s mother.

The whole family was ecstatic when they learned Dr. Marcus Muschen had made a breakthrough which may explain why some children who relapse with leukemia no longer respond to treatment and die.

"We discovered the VCF6 gene and we think it protects the cells from chemotherapy and makes them resistant to drug treatment," said Dr. Markus Muschen of children’s hospital Los Angeles.

So if a child does relapse, he or she might be tested for the gene and then given a new drug that overcomes the resistance.

Siegel says it may yet save the lives of many others.

"I think if this works for this subset of leukemia there is going to be hundreds of adults and children every year who are going to be able to be treated successfully for their leukemia and go on to live normal productive lives," said Siegal.


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