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Blood Test May Help Predict Acute Myeloid Leukemia Return

Test can identify post-chemo patients with NPM1 gene mutation

THURSDAY, Jan. 21, 2016 (HealthDay News) — A simple blood test may be an inexpensive, easy, and effective way to predict risk of recurrence of a common form of acute myeloid leukemia (AML), characterized by a mutation in the NPM1 gene, according to research published in the Jan. 21 issue of the New England Journal of Medicine.

David Grimwade, M.D., Ph.D., professor of molecular hematology in the department of medical and molecular genetics with the Cancer Genetics Lab at King’s College London, and colleagues investigated the “Minimal Residual Disease” (MRD) test (not yet approved for use in the United States) on 2,569 blood samples obtained from 346 patients with the NPM1 mutation. At the same time, standard genetic testing was conducted on 272 other blood samples.

According to the investigators, the test found evidence of a high risk for disease recurrence in 15 percent of the tested samples, following a second round of chemotherapy. Finding that evidence suggested an 82 percent chance of disease recurrence after three years. This compared with just a 30 percent risk of disease recurrence among the other AML patients.

“Our key finding,” Grimwade told HealthDay, “is that the MRD test — which is pretty cheap and easy to apply — provides a much more powerful predictor of patient outcome in this group of AML patients as compared to genetic profiling of the tumor sample, which is a much more expensive test.”

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