01:04pm Wednesday 16 October 2019

Discovery of a gene associated with a leukemia mostly affecting children

The research
Cyndi Charfi first compared the transcriptome (the set of active genes in a cell) of leukemic and healthy mice. From this analysis, she was able to isolate groups of genes with abnormal activity in the leukemic mice. This led to the discovery that excessive synthesis of the Fmn2 gene and protein is associated with B-cell lymphocytic leukemia.

Although mice cells are genetically similar to human cells, they clearly are not identical. So the young researcher continued her work, this time using human cells. Her results were the same: abormal activity of Fmn2 gene was observed in human patients with B-cell lymphocytic leukemia and particularly in children.

Better diagnosis for better treatment
Leukemia refers to all cancers that attack the bone marrow cells. The bone marrow produces blood cells, hence the term “blood cancer”. As there are several types of blood cells (including B-cells), there are also several types of leukemia, and the treatment differs for each type. The faster and more accurate the diagnosis of the type of leukemia, the better the treatment.

What is the significance of this discovery? According to Professor Rassart, “although it is basic research, Cyndia Charfi’s findings represent a major advance and a step closer to improved diagnosis and, hopefully, treatment of this cancer, whose victims, we should recall, are mainly children.”

The results of Cyndi Charfi’s research are published in the December 2010 issue of Blood under the title “Gene profiling of Graffi murine leukemia virus induced lymphoid leukemias: identification of leukemia markers and Fmn2 as a potential oncogene.”

Éric Rassart
Department of Biological Sciences
Phone: 514 987-3000, ext. 3953
Email: rassart.eric@uqam.ca


Claire Bouchard, Press Relations Officer
Division des relations avec la presse et événements spéciaux
Service des communications
Phone. : 514 987-3000, ext. 2248


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