April 20, 2009

New leukemia biomarker is discovered

U.S. cancer scientists say they've discovered a potential new biomarker that can predict the aggressiveness of chronic lymphocytic leukemia.

Scientists at the University of California-San Diego and the university's Moores Cancer Center said they determined high blood levels of a particular enzyme -- PDE7B -- are an indicator that chronic lymphocytic leukemia, the most common form of adult leukemia, will be aggressive and in need of immediate treatment.

We found that individuals with high levels really had worse disease and showed that PDE7B expression had predictive value relative to other currently available markers for disease severity and progression, said Dr. Paul Insel, who led the study. In some cases, the level of PDE7B expression provided prognostic information that was additive to existing markers.

Insel said the findings suggest PDE7B has a role in prognosis and could also be a good drug target because it reflects part of the biology of the disease.

The research that included Laura Rassenti, Minya Pu, Fiona Murray, Joan Kanter, Andrew Greaves and Karen Messer was presented during the weekend in Denver at the annual meeting of the American Association for Cancer Research.