Epigenetic alterations may serve as markers for chronic leukemia

October 30, 2015

The animal model, called the TCL1 transgenic mouse, was developed by Ohio State cancer researcher Dr. Carlo M. Croce and a group of colleagues in 2002. An earlier study by Byrd and his laboratory showed that the disease in the mouse has many of the same molecular and genetic features as human CLL, responds to drugs used to treat the disease and develops drug resistance, as CLL patients often do.

"Data from this new study demonstrate a strong similarity in gene silencing patterns in the mouse leukemia and in human CLL, suggesting that the changes in the mice mimic critical changes in different stages of the human disease," says Byrd, who worked closely on the study with first author and graduate student Shih-Shih Chen, co-senior author Christoph Plass at the German Cancer Research Center in Heidelberg, and other colleagues.

"We know that human CLL involves the silencing of a number of genes, but we can look at human CLL only after patients develop the disease," he says. "This mouse model now allows us to look at events leading up to the disease and perhaps identify markers for early disease detection and the testing of new therapies." Funding from the National Cancer Institute, the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society, The D. Warren Brown Foundation and the Thompson family supported this research. Byrd is the D. Warren Brown Professor of Leukemia Research at Ohio State and a Leukemia and Lymphoma Society clinical scholar.