Uncovering Early Genetic Aberrations in Myelodysplastic Syndromes

Type of Award: Catalyst
Award Number:
Award Period: March 2011 - February 2013
Amount Awarded: $ 200,000.00
PI(s): Amittha Wickrema, PhD, UChicago; Hongmei Jiang, PhD, NU;

Abstract: Myelodysplastic syndromes (MDS) are a group of diseases in the bone marrow cells that are considered cancerous. Many patients with MDS are initially diagnosed with anemia without an underlying cause but slowly progress to MDS and acute myeloid leukemia (AML). The disease is mostly prevalent in older patients (over 60 years of age) and the disease affects several blood cell types although the disease mostly manifests in red blood cell precursors. Currently there are no tests available to precisely diagnose the disease at very early stage. Chromosomal changes and cytogenetic aberrations are not prominent in the early stages of the disease. Therefore, current diagnostic methods are not sufficient to predict which patients with unexplained anemia will develop MDS and AML. Our grant proposal is aimed at uncovering very early genetic aberrations of MDS using the latest DNA sequencing technology and data analysis methods. Following identification of early defects in DNA we will test the normal function of these genes in a unique cellular model we have developed. Overall these studies will discover new ways to detect and predict the onset of MDS very early providing an opportunity to intervene in the treatment of MDS before the disease becomes aggressive.