Scientists Identify Genes Behind Leukemia

A study conducted at the Washington University in St. Louis by a team of researchers recently discovered eight identifiable genes as playing a significant role in the development of leukemia. According to news reports from New Scientist magazine, the study used “developed sequencing methods to look at the entire genome of cells from an acute myelogenous leukemia (AML) tumor and from the patient’s skin, which helped narrow down and identify 10 varying genes between the tissues.”

The researchers were then able to pinpoint two previously identifiable cancer-causing genes and eliminate them from the study. Then, the researchers identified three of the genes out of the eight and found them as having been tumor-suppressors. Tumor-suppressors genes cause cells that have been damaged to die off, which is also known as apoptosis or senescence, and because of this, cell populations cannot replenish, thus causing weakness of the body and the development of cancers such as leukemia.

The research is considered breakthrough and may lead to the development of more treatments as well as better-equipped screening processes and highlight potential candidate’s who may be at a higher risk of developing the cancer.

What Is Leukemia?

Leukemia is described as a “malignant disease of the bone marrow and blood,” according to the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society, which also describes the cancer as divided into four various categories including the following.

* Acute Myelogenous Leukemia (AML)

* Acute Lymphocytic Leukemia (ALL)

* Chronic Myelogenous Leukemia (CML)

* Chronic Lymphocytic Leukemia (CLL)

Leukemia Causes, Signs and Symptoms

According to the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society all four varieties of the disease begin within a cell in the bone marrow, which undergoes a leukemic change and multiplies into many cells. Each type of leukemia is characterized by “the rate at which leukemia progresses and how the cells replace the normal blood and marrow cells.” However, there are common types of risk factors that are associated with leukemia including the following:

* tobacco smoke

* radiation therapy when used during other cancer treatments

* chronic benzene exposure

* genetic diseases including down syndrome

* chemotherapy treatments and exposures to high doses of radiation therapy

Diagnosing leukemia can be difficult at times because of the similarities of leukemia signs and symptoms to other types of conditions and illnesses, but, the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society described the following symptoms to watch for if a patient feels they may have the disease.

* fatigue, tiredness, lack of energy

* shortness of breath, difficulty breathing during physical activity

* pale skin

* pinhead-sized red spots that appear just under the skin

* joint and bone aches, pains

* low white cell counts

* black and blue marks or bruises that appear with no cause or reason

* fever or night sweats

Smoking Cessation Drugs

While there are an array of factors involved in the development of leukemia, smoking is one of the top causes that can be prevented if smoking cessation occurs among the types of leukemia. There are an array of smoking cessation drugs available in the United States for the 43.4 million American adults that were reportedly smokers in 2007, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Smoking not only leads to several types of leukemia, but it has also been linked to the following cancers, according to the CDC:

* stomach

* pancreas

* kidney

* cervix

* lung

* bladder

A plethora of smoking-cessation aids and drugs currently exist to assist smokers in quitting, but when some of these drugs also offer unintended and severe side effects, it becomes important for individuals to know what they are consuming, whether a drug is prescribed by a physician or available over-the-counter at the local grocery store.

For example, one such drug is known as Chantix or Champix (varenicline tartrate) and is a prescription medication available to deter smoking addictions. However, the drug, from Pfizer, was recently linked to deadly side effects including suicidal thoughts, suicidal tendencies, depression, behavioral changes and moodiness.

While the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has previously investigated the Chantix side effects the drug currently remains on the market. Chantix patients who have been negatively impacted by the drug are encouraged to speak with a pharmaceutical attorney for a free legal consultation on the potential for participating in a Chantix class action lawsuit that may offer a return of monetary compensation to assist a victim with psychiatric or additional medical bills or conditions caused by the prescription cessation drug Chantix.

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