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Concept: Acute lymphoblastic leukemia


Acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL) is the most common hematological cancer in children. Although risk-adaptive therapy, CNS-directed chemotherapy, and supportive care have improved the survival of ALL patients, disease relapse is still the leading cause of cancer-related death in children. Therefore, new drugs are needed as frontline treatments in high-risk disease and as salvage agents in relapsed ALL. In this study, we report that purified sulforaphane, a natural isothiocyanate found in cruciferous vegetables, has anti-leukemic properties in a broad range of ALL cell lines and primary lymphoblasts from pediatric T-ALL and pre-B ALL patients. The treatment of ALL leukemic cells with sulforaphane resulted in dose-dependent apoptosis and G2/M cell cycle arrest, which was associated with the activation of caspases (3, 8, and 9), inactivation of PARP, p53-independent upregulation of p21(CIP1/WAF1), and inhibition of the Cdc2/Cyclin B1 complex. Interestingly, sulforaphane also inhibited the AKT and mTOR survival pathways in most of the tested cell lines by lowering the levels of both total and phosphorylated proteins. Finally, the administration of sulforaphane to the ALL xenograft models resulted in a reduction of tumor burden, particularly following oral administration, suggesting a potential role as an adjunctive agent to improve the therapeutic response in high-risk ALL patients with activated AKT signaling.

Concepts: Protein, Cell nucleus, Cancer, Cell biology, Chemotherapy, Cell cycle, Leukemia, Acute lymphoblastic leukemia


One of the most important discoveries in the treatment of acute leukemia is that the presence of minimal residual disease is an independent prognostic factor for the duration of remission and survival. This is particularly true for patients with acute lymphoblastic leukemia.(1),(2) The identification of minimal residual disease at the end of induction therapy, at the end of consolidation therapy, or before allogeneic hematopoietic stem-cell transplantation in patients with acute lymphoblastic leukemia is associated with a significantly worse outcome than is the absence of minimal residual disease at the same time point.(1)-(3) The presence of minimal residual disease . . .

Concepts: Medical terms, Hematology, Organ transplant, Acute lymphoblastic leukemia


The purpose of this study was to determine if there is an increased risk of acute leukemia and myelodysplastic syndromes (MDS) in persons with monoclonal gammopathy of undetermined significance (MGUS). We utilized a large population-based cohort of individuals systematically screened for the presence or absence of MGUS. MGUS status was then linked to the diagnosis of acute myeloid leukemia (AML), acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL), and MDS. 17 315 patients age 50 and older (605 MGUS and 16 710 controls) with a cumulative 435 021 person-years of follow-up were studied. MGUS patients had a significantly higher risk of developing MDS compared with controls, hazard ratio 2.4 (95%CI 1.08,5.32), P=0.031. There was no statistically significant increase in the risk of AML (RR 1.36 P=0.675), and no increased risk of developing ALL.Leukemia accepted article preview online, 5 February 2013; doi:10.1038/leu.2013.34.

Concepts: Hematology, Leukemia, Acute myeloid leukemia, Blood disorders, Acute lymphoblastic leukemia, Monoclonal gammopathy of undetermined significance, Myelodysplastic syndrome, French-American-British classification


A 39-year-old man with Philadelphia chromosome-positive acute lymphoblastic leukemia (LAL Ph+) developed progressive vision loss to no light perception in his right eye. He had optic disk edema and later developed central artery and vein occlusions. Pan-photocoagulation, as well as radiotherapy of the whole brain were performed in several fractions. Unfortunately the patient died of hematological relapse 4 months later.

Concepts: Blood, Heart, Artery, Retina, Eye, Visual perception, Vein, Acute lymphoblastic leukemia


Background Among patients in whom childhood cancer was diagnosed in the 1970s and 1980s, 18% of those who survived for 5 years died within the subsequent 25 years. In recent decades, cancer treatments have been modified with the goal of reducing life-threatening late effects. Methods We evaluated late mortality among 34,033 patients in the Childhood Cancer Survivor Study cohort who survived at least 5 years after childhood cancer (i.e., cancer diagnosed before the age of 21 years) for which treatment was initiated during the period from 1970 through 1999. The median follow-up was 21 years (range, 5 to 38). We evaluated demographic and disease factors that were associated with death from health-related causes (i.e., conditions that exclude recurrence or progression of the original cancer and external causes but include the late effects of cancer therapy) using cumulative incidence and piecewise exponential models to estimate relative rates and 95% confidence intervals. Results Of the 3958 deaths that occurred during the study period, 1618 (41%) were attributable to health-related causes, including 746 deaths from subsequent neoplasms, 241 from cardiac causes, 137 from pulmonary causes, and 494 from other causes. A reduction in 15-year mortality was observed for death from any cause (from 12.4% in the early 1970s to 6.0% in the 1990s, P<0.001 for trend) and from health-related causes (from 3.5% to 2.1%, P<0.001 for trend). These reductions were attributable to decreases in the rates of death from subsequent neoplasm (P<0.001), cardiac causes (P<0.001), and pulmonary causes (P=0.04). Changes in therapy according to decade included reduced rates of cranial radiotherapy for acute lymphoblastic leukemia (85% in the 1970s, 51% in the 1980s, and 19% in the 1990s), of abdominal radiotherapy for Wilms' tumor (78%, 53%, and 43%, respectively), of chest radiotherapy for Hodgkin's lymphoma (87%, 79%, and 61%, respectively), and of anthracycline exposure. Reduction in treatment exposure was associated with reduced late mortality among survivors of acute lymphoblastic leukemia and Wilms' tumor. Conclusions The strategy of lowering therapeutic exposure has contributed to an observed decline in late mortality among 5-year survivors of childhood cancer. (Funded by the National Cancer Institute and the American Lebanese-Syrian Associated Charities.).

Concepts: Cancer, Oncology, Death, Tumor, Neoplasm, Leukemia, Acute lymphoblastic leukemia, Doxorubicin


Background The prognosis for patients with acute lymphoblastic leukemia is poor. We sought to determine whether inotuzumab ozogamicin, an anti-CD22 antibody conjugated to calicheamicin, results in better outcomes in patients with relapsed or refractory acute lymphoblastic leukemia than does standard therapy. Methods In this phase 3 trial, we randomly assigned adults with relapsed or refractory acute lymphoblastic leukemia to receive either inotuzumab ozogamicin (inotuzumab ozogamicin group) or standard intensive chemotherapy (standard-therapy group). The primary end points were complete remission (including complete remission with incomplete hematologic recovery) and overall survival. Results Of the 326 patients who underwent randomization, the first 218 (109 in each group) were included in the primary intention-to-treat analysis of complete remission. The rate of complete remission was significantly higher in the inotuzumab ozogamicin group than in the standard-therapy group (80.7% [95% confidence interval {CI}, 72.1 to 88.7] vs. 29.4% [95% CI, 21.0 to 38.8], P<0.001). Among the patients who had complete remission, a higher percentage in the inotuzumab ozogamicin group had results below the threshold for minimal residual disease (0.01% marrow blasts) (78.4% vs. 28.1%, P<0.001); the duration of remission was longer in the inotuzumab ozogamicin group (median, 4.6 months [95% CI, 3.9 to 5.4] vs. 3.1 months [95% CI, 1.4 to 4.9]; hazard ratio, 0.55 [95% CI, 0.31 to 0.96]; P=0.03). In the survival analysis, which included all 326 patients, progression-free survival was significantly longer in the inotuzumab ozogamicin group (median, 5.0 months [95% CI, 3.7 to 5.6] vs. 1.8 months [95% CI, 1.5 to 2.2]; hazard ratio, 0.45 [97.5% CI, 0.34 to 0.61]; P<0.001); the median overall survival was 7.7 months (95% CI, 6.0 to 9.2) versus 6.7 months (95% CI, 4.9 to 8.3), and the hazard ratio was 0.77 (97.5% CI, 0.58 to 1.03) (P=0.04). In the safety population, the most frequent grade 3 or higher nonhematologic adverse events with inotuzumab ozogamicin were liver-related. Veno-occlusive liver disease of any grade occurred in 15 patients (11%) who received inotuzumab ozogamicin and in 1 patient (1%) who received standard therapy. Conclusions The rate of complete remission was higher with inotuzumab ozogamicin than with standard therapy, and a higher percentage of patients in the inotuzumab ozogamicin group had results below the threshold for minimal residual disease. Both progression-free and overall survival were longer with inotuzumab ozogamicin. Veno-occlusive liver disease was a major adverse event associated with inotuzumab ozogamicin. (Funded by Pfizer; INO-VATE ALL number, NCT01564784 .).

Concepts: Clinical trial, Cancer, Hematology, Leukemia, Normal distribution, Acute lymphoblastic leukemia, Adverse event, Calicheamicin


Chimeric antigen receptor-modified T cells with specificity for CD19 have shown promise in the treatment of chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL). It remains to be established whether chimeric antigen receptor T cells have clinical activity in acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL). Two children with relapsed and refractory pre-B-cell ALL received infusions of T cells transduced with anti-CD19 antibody and a T-cell signaling molecule (CTL019 chimeric antigen receptor T cells), at a dose of 1.4×10(6) to 1.2×10(7) CTL019 cells per kilogram of body weight. In both patients, CTL019 T cells expanded to a level that was more than 1000 times as high as the initial engraftment level, and the cells were identified in bone marrow. In addition, the chimeric antigen receptor T cells were observed in the cerebrospinal fluid (CSF), where they persisted at high levels for at least 6 months. Eight grade 3 or 4 adverse events were noted. The cytokine-release syndrome and B-cell aplasia developed in both patients. In one child, the cytokine-release syndrome was severe; cytokine blockade with etanercept and tocilizumab was effective in reversing the syndrome and did not prevent expansion of chimeric antigen receptor T cells or reduce antileukemic efficacy. Complete remission was observed in both patients and is ongoing in one patient at 11 months after treatment. The other patient had a relapse, with blast cells that no longer expressed CD19, approximately 2 months after treatment. Chimeric antigen receptor-modified T cells are capable of killing even aggressive, treatment-refractory acute leukemia cells in vivo. The emergence of tumor cells that no longer express the target indicates a need to target other molecules in addition to CD19 in some patients with ALL.

Concepts: Immune system, White blood cell, Cancer, Bone marrow, B cell, Leukemia, Blood disorders, Acute lymphoblastic leukemia


Survivors of childhood acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL) treated with CNS-directed chemotherapy are at risk for neurocognitive deficits. Prospective longitudinal studies are needed to clarify the neurodevelopmental trajectory in this vulnerable population.

Concepts: Longitudinal study, Chemotherapy, Sociology, Leukemia, Chemotherapy regimens, Acute lymphoblastic leukemia, Vincristine, Lymphoblast


Childhood leukemia may be associated with traffic-related environmental exposure to benzene, and additional data are needed. The Géolocalisation des Cancers Pédiatriques (GEOCAP) Study, a nationwide French case-control study, was designed to avoid selection bias due to differential participation and misclassification. The study compared the 2,760 childhood leukemia cases diagnosed in France between 2002 and 2007 (including 2,275 cases of acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL) and 418 cases of acute myeloblastic leukemia (AML)) with 30,000 contemporaneous child population controls. The residence addresses were precisely geocoded, and 3 indicators of residential proximity to traffic were considered. Estimates of benzene concentrations were also available for the Île-de-France region (including Paris). A 300-m increase in major road length within 150 m of the geocoded address was significantly associated with AML (odds ratio = 1.2, 95% confidence interval: 1.0, 1.4) but not with ALL (odds ratio = 1.0, 95% confidence interval: 0.9, 1.1), and the association was reinforced in the Île-de-France region when this indicator was combined with benzene estimates. These results, which were free from any participation bias and based on objectively determined indices of exposure, showed an increased incidence of AML associated with heavy-traffic road density near a child’s home. The results support a role for traffic-related benzene exposure in the etiology of childhood AML.

Concepts: Epidemiology, Cancer, Leukemia, Benzene, Acute myeloid leukemia, Acute lymphoblastic leukemia, Vincristine, Lymphoblast


Autologous T cells engineered to express chimeric antigen receptor against the B cell antigen CD19 (CAR19) are achieving marked leukemic remissions in early-phase trials but can be difficult to manufacture, especially in infants or heavily treated patients. We generated universal CAR19 (UCART19) T cells by lentiviral transduction of non-human leukocyte antigen-matched donor cells and simultaneous transcription activator-like effector nuclease (TALEN)-mediated gene editing of T cell receptor α chain and CD52 gene loci. Two infants with relapsed refractory CD19(+) B cell acute lymphoblastic leukemia received lymphodepleting chemotherapy and anti-CD52 serotherapy, followed by a single-dose infusion of UCART19 cells. Molecular remissions were achieved within 28 days in both infants, and UCART19 cells persisted until conditioning ahead of successful allogeneic stem cell transplantation. This bridge-to-transplantation strategy demonstrates the therapeutic potential of gene-editing technology.

Concepts: DNA, Protein, B cell, T cell, Major histocompatibility complex, T cell receptor, Leukemia, Acute lymphoblastic leukemia