Frankfurt becomes the reference center for the diagnosis of high risk leukemia




The Frankfurt Center for Molecular MLL diagnosis was initiated a year ago by
Prof. Dr. Theo Dingermann and Prof. Dr. Rolf Marschalek, Institute for Pharmaceutical Biology at the Johann Wolfgang Goethe-University, and Prof. Dr. Thomas Klingebiel, Center of the children clinic II at the University of the Frankfurt clinic. The Center has quickly developed into an internationally accepted reference center for the diagnosis of the so-called high risk leukemia. High risk leukemia includes all leukemia which can be characterized by a chromosomal translocation of the MLL-gene, such as the acute lymphoid leukemia (ALL) and the acute myeloid leukemia (AML). The Frankfurt scientists developed a novel method, for which they filed a patent, to identify and characterize known and unknown MLL translocations. This method is the basis for a patient specific detection assay („minimal residual disease monitoring"), which is able to identify a single cancer cell out of 100,000 to 1,000,000 normal blood cells. Based on the high sensitivity of this assay the diagnosis centers of England, France, Italy and Chechnya, in addition to the Netherlands, Austria and Germany, will have their samples analyzed in Frankfurt. As a result the reference center, which is supported by the Wilhelm-Sander Foundation in Munich, is performing the diagnosis for all affected patients in Europe.
The diagnosis method, of this group at the JWG University, is not the only thing worth mentioning. Adelheid Bursen, from Prof. Dr. Marschalek’s group at the Institute for Pharmaceutical Biology at the Johann Wolfgang Goethe-University Frankfurt, received a prize for best presentation at the Biennal Hannover Symposium on Childhood Leukemia, May 3 to 5, 2004. This is an international congress in Celle, including several hundred experts from 43 countries and four continents. The group identified the molecular patho-mechanism responsible for the manifestation and development of the t(4;11)- childhood leukemia. The development of an adequate drug can be started as early as next year, in cooperation with the pharmaceutical industry, if this patho-mechanism is confirmed in animal tests.

For more information contact:
Prof. Dr. Rolf Marschalek
Institute for Pharmaceutical Biology
Phone: 069-798-29647

An additional article covering this topic was published on June 3 rd, 2004 in “Forschung Frankfurt (Prof. Dr. Rolf Marschalek and Prof. Dr. Thomas Klingebiel: „Akute Hochrisiko-Leukämie bei Kindern” (Acute high risk leukemia in children).

The figure shows the large area where the Reference Center for the Diagnosis of High Risk Leukemia provides its innovative diagnosis technique.


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