24 November 2011

Searching for the Cause of Infant Leukemia

Leukemia is a type of cancer affecting the blood or bone marrow. It is characterized by an abnormal increase of white blood cells and abnormalities in the blood, the bone marrow and the lymphoid system, which are all known as hematological neoplasms.

10% of leukemia affect newly born babies; Infant Leukemia.

Aside from cell and DNA mutations that causes cancer, the cause of infant leukemia or leukemia in general is a mystery. There is good news though, medical breakthroughs such as stem cell transplantation and medicine (see video below) are showing positive gains towards a cure and treatment for the disease.

The British Journal of Cancer published a study by the Division of Pediatric Epidemiology and Clinical Research at the University of Minnesota regarding the use of analgesic by mothers during pregnancy. They want to find out if it is a factor in infant leukemia. The Children's Oncology Group study concluded that "overall, analgesic use during pregnancy was not significantly associated with the risk of infant leukemia..."

Another study also published in The British Journal of Cancer looked into the socioeconomic status of the affected families in England and Wales between 1976 and 2005. By using data from the census appropriate to the decade (1976-2005), the socioeconomic status for each case was measured. They found that childhood leukemia incidence seems to be higher in relatively affluent communities. They conclude that, "Possible explanations include under diagnosis of leukaemia in children from poorer communities, and/or association of higher SES (socioeconomic status) with hypothesised risk factors, such as population mixing and delayed exposure to infection..."

Video: Killing Leukemia: Full recovery real for kids in Russia

As it is, the cause of infant leukemia is still unknown. But a team of scientists in Spain may have found a significant factor towards a cure or treatment for the disease. The Grupo Español de Trasplante de Médula Ósea en Niños at the Universitario Marqués de Valdecilla published a study on stem cell transplantation (SCT).

They studied 26 infants who were submitted to a stem cell transplantation for acute leukemia. And from their study, they conclude that "SCT is a valid option in the treatment of infant acute leukemia, and it may overcome the high risk of relapse with conventional chemotherapy showing very reduced toxicity. This study suggests that SCT should be performed in CR1 in the early phase of the disease..."

CR1 means The first Complete Response.

In Russia, Russia Today reports a medical breakthrough where 70 per cent of young sufferers of leukemia now make a full recovery. This claim is still being studied.