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HAHNEMANN RESEARCHERS DEVELOP NEW METHOD TO DETECT CANCER RELAPSE AFTER TREATMENT

 HAHNEMANN RESEARCHERS DEVELOP NEW METHOD
 TO DETECT CANCER RELAPSE AFTER TREATMENT
 /Editors: Dr. Jorge J. Yunis, M.D., Ph.D., will include a discussion of this new technique when he delivers the Sydney Farber Award Lecture on Sunday, March 15, at 11 a.m., before a national meeting of the Society for Pediatric Pathology, at the Marriott Hotel, Atlanta./
 /ADVANCE/ PHILADELPHIA, March 15 /PRNewswire/ -- One of the most serious dilemmas for cancer patients is the chance of a relapse after initially effective treatment.
 It takes only a few malignant cells among millions of healthy ones to create trouble. Now, researchers at Hahnemann University, Philadelphia, have developed a very sensitive technique for detecting these cells and their growth rate. By catching the relapse very early, the technique enables physicians to provide immediate therapy to eliminate the remaining cancer cells.
 Details of the technique, a potentially powerful weapon in the fight against leukemia and certain lymphomas, are contained in the March 15 edition of the journal BLOOD, the highly respected clinical and scientific publication of the American Society of Hematology.
 The article is titled, "Molecular Quantification of Residual Disease in Chronic Myelogenous Leukemia After Bone Marrow Transplantation."
 In many blood cancers, such as chronic myelogenous leukemia (CML), bone marrow transplantation has become a crucial treatment, noted Jorge J. Yunis, M.D., Ph.D., professor and vice chairman, Neoplastic Diseases, and director, Division of Human Genetics and Molecular Biology, Hahnemann, the article's senior author.
 "Nevertheless, despite the absence of any abnormal clinical or laboratory markers, it is not uncommon for patients to relapse, due to the presence of minimal residual disease," Yunis observed.
 Given this uncertainty, the researchers have developed a technique that can detect, quantitatively, if the patient's blood or marrow has as little as one leukemic cell in a million normal cells. In contrast, current techniques either may not be sensitive below the 5 percent level (i.e., chromosome or DNA blotting) or cannot quantify the residual disease (i.e., conventional Polymerase Chain Reaction).
 With the new technique, quantitative Polymerase Chain Reaction, the researchers believe they can successfully monitor disease in patients at high risk of relapse, allowing -- in a few months' follow-up -- either early detection of a relapse or tracking of the CML's progressive disappearance. "For many leukemia and lymphoma patients, this new technique may provide a more effective way to gauge the success of their treatment, while helping their physicians make an earlier and more effective decision about the need for additional therapy," observed author Isadore Brodsky, M.D., professor and chairman, Neoplastic Diseases, and director, Institute for Cancer and Blood Diseases, Hahnemann.
 In addition, Yunis, internationally recognized for his discoveries in human genetics, noted, "This approach may serve as a model for the study of residual disease in a large number of other hematologic malignancies where it is possible to detect unique cancer gene changes." Hematologic malignancies represent 15 percent of all cancers.
 Authors of the BLOOD article were former Hahnemann research assistant professor James D. Thompson, M.D., now at U.S. Biomedical, Cleveland, and Brodsky and Yunis of Hahnemann.
 This research was supported in part by grants from the National Cancer Institute and the Mary L. Smith Charitable Lead Trust.
 /delval/
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 /CONTACT: Phyllis M. Fisher or Merrill S. Meadow of Hahnemann University, 215-448-8284/ CO: Hahnemann University Medical Center ST: Georgia, Pennsylvania IN: MTC SU:


JS-MK -- PH007 -- 7679 03/13/92 09:16 EST
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Date:Mar 13, 1992
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