SEATTLE--With advanced molecular genetic techniques now available
to researchers for the identification and study of genes involved
in cancer, the question arises: Is the study of chromosomal translocations,
additions, and deletions still a worthwhile pursuit?
Janet Rowley, MD, DSc, speaking at the American Society of Hematology's
subcommittee on pediatric hematology program at the ASH annual
meeting, gave an emphatic yes and cited new research to back up
Dr. Rowley, professor of medicine, University of Chicago, and
the members of her laboratory at the University's Franklin McLean
Memorial Research Institute have been involved in characterizing
a newly identified, ETS-family transcription factor called TEL,
which has been implicated in acute lymphoid leukemia (ALL).
The gene coding for TEL (translocation ETS leukemia protein) was
discovered by pursuing the observation that the cells of many
ALL patients carry a particular translocation involving chromosome
[The research on TEL as a fusion partner for ABL was formally
presented at a scientific session of the ASH meeting (abstract
"There are several hundred translocations still out there,
waiting to have their genetic breakpoints defined," Dr. Rowley
"It's important to further identify the rearrangements that
are consistently associated with each of the leukemias. Also,
we need to look at the diagnosis, and whether a patient has only,
say, a t(8;21) translocation, or a t(15;17)--or are there other
changes already present in the karyotype of the cells?"