Identifying Aggressive Leukemia

Chronic lymphocytic leukemia g protein receptor prognosis

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Chris Galloway, M.D.

(RxWiki News) There are two main types of chronic lymphocytic leukemia, and knowing whether a patient has the aggressive or the slow version is very important to determine treatment early on.

New research from the University of California-San Diego School of Medicine was presented to the Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology, revealing a crucial new test for chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL).

"Ask your doctor about screening tests for cancer."

Researchers led by USCD's Paul Insel, MD, showed that their test may provide the solution, and the reaction between a protein called vasoactive intestinal polypeptide with G protein-coupled receptors (GPCRs) identifies aggressive cancers quickly.

The two types of chronic lymphocytic leukemia, aggressive and slow, have very different types of these molecules on their surface, making this an effective laboratory test. Researchers believe that this research could quickly change the way the leukemia is evaluated by doctors.

Dr. Insel teaches Pharmacology and Medicine at the University of California, San Diego.

"We find that the expression of specific GPCRs appears to a play a role in prognosis of CLL," said Dr. Insel. "Thus, such GPCRs may also provide new ways to treat the disease, since they reflect part of its underlying biology and pathology.

The test only requires white blood cells, taken from a routine blood sample. The test mixes the white blood cells with a common protein called vasoactive intestinal polypeptide.

Adding this protein to cells with the aggressive version of the leukemia resulted in a quick death for leukemia cells, but the slower more harmless leukemia was not bothered.

The team is refining the research further with broader testing before submitting their data for publication, but announced plans to perform more investigation in GPCR expression in other cancers.

Results of research before publication in a peer-reviewed journal is considered preliminary. No conflicts of interest were disclosed by the researchers.

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Review Date: 
May 9, 2012
Last Updated:
May 14, 2012