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Aurora magazine

Genetic testing makes it easier to predict chronic blood cancers

Scientists at the Wellcome Sanger Institute, Wellcome-MRC Cambridge Stem Cell Institute and the University of Cambridge have made it easier to predict chronic blood cancers. The merit is the combination of genetic tests and patient clinical information. The mix allows to accurately predict the prognosis of patients with myeloproliferative neoplasms. The study also identified 8 genetic subgroups of the disease, linked to specific patterns of symptoms and prognosis.

Myeloproliferative neoplasms are blood cancers that affect approximately 30,000 patients in the UK alone. They are chronic tumors, which increase the risk of emboli and bleeding. In addition, these tumors can lead to more advanced forms of cancer, such as acute leukemia. As a result, it is essential to find out as soon as possible how the cancer will evolve. In this way, doctors can prescribe customizable treatments that reduce risks.

The classification of chronic blood cancers dates back to the 1950s and includes three categories. In recent years, the classification system has proved to be inaccurate. It is difficult for doctors to assign the most appropriate treatment to patients and to predict how their condition will evolve. The researchers then analyzed the biological factors underlying these neoplasms, so as to identify the genetic subgroups and link them to the clinical symptomatology.

The study combines genetic information from each individual patient and clinical information. Compared to traditional methods, this makes it easier to get personalized predictions. In this way, it is also easier to develop tailor-made therapies, rather than pre-defined categories. In the future it may make it possible to identify the most at-risk patients well in advance. The umpteenth demonstration of the many possible applications of genetic tests.