The acute myeloid leukemia it is a very frequent and with a high death rate. Just over 50% of young adults survive after diagnosis, a figure that drops to less than 10% of those over 65 years of age. “We have to be able to to be precise in the treatments that we give to these patients, as is done in other tumors, such as the breast, where biomarkers are used as a clue to adjust which therapy will respond best”, explains María Linares, a researcher at Hospital 12 de Octubre and the Complutense University of Madrid.
Until 85% of patients could avoid the first line of treatment with chemotherapy and its side effects, opting for other more effective therapies if the alterations of some proteins will be determined to detect those that do not respond to standard therapy. “The current option is mainly based on the administration of citarabina [un antineoplásico empleado en este tipo de tumores hematológicos descubierto en 1970] along with other medications,” explains Linares.
But the researcher qualifies that “although it is an effective drug, the vast majority of patients develop resistance, and very few of them survive in the long term. By being able to predict which patients will not respond, we would avoid chemotherapy and its side effects, such as anemia, thrombocytopenia and all the alterations that occur in the blood cells”.
The prevalence of acute myeloid leukemia is high. Three to four new cases are diagnosed each year. of this blood tumor per 100,000 inhabitants, according to the Spanish Association of People Affected by Lymphoma, Myeloma and Leukemia (AEAL). The figure rises to 20 when it comes to people over 65, Linares points out. Since cancer cells spread rapidly through the blood, it is an aggressive cancer. This type of leukemia represents 40% of all leukemias.point out from the Josep Carreras Foundation.
Linares’ team has published a study in Leukemia, a scientific publication of the group Naturean investigation that opens the way to the precision therapies in acute myeloid leukemia. Using cell models and patient samples, they have observed that proteins involved in gene processing (called splicing) are implicated in cytarabine resistance.