In just the last week, this blog has detailed the ways in which gene treatments can help predict and treat instances of post-traumatic stress disorder, cystic fibrosis and Parkinson's disease. Now, researchers from the University of California, San Francisco, have completed a study, published in the journal Nature, which may contain the key to treating a form of leukemia.
Researchers were able to sequence the FLT3 gene, which they found to be more susceptible to treatments intended to combat acute myeloid leukemia – one of the most common forms of the condition. In identifying drug-resistant mutations present in this gene, researchers can determine why certain treatments were ineffective, in addition to determining which strategies could be most successful in caring for different patients.
"Sequencing hundreds of single molecules of FLT3 allowed us to see drug resistance mutations at low frequency," lead researcher Dr. Andrew Kasarskis told Science Daily. "This increased ability to see resistance will let us identify the problem of the resistance sooner in a patient's clinical course and help us take steps to address it."
Part of the appeal of personalized medicine treatments such as these is that diseases, such as acute myeloid leukemia, can be attacked more accurately throughout their evolutionary process. Treatments that target gene mutations are also appealing because they help doctors to overcome the problem of drug resistance, which can occur as genes mutate and develop. Personalized medicine enhances the effectiveness of treatments.
As researchers develop new strategies for combating different conditions in individuals with different genetic compositions, diagnostic laboratories will continue to play a vital support role as genetic information is analyzed and processed. With more research, certain genes may soon be found to be vulnerable to specific treatments.
This article is brought to you by Slone Partners, a leading laboratory recruitment firm in the emerging sciences of molecular, clinical, and in-vitro diagnostics, anatomic pathology and personalized medicine.
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