Nav: Home

Herpes virus linked to most common type of childhood cancer

December 15, 2016

Newborns with congenital cytomegalovirus (CMV) -- a common virus in the herpes family -- may have an increased risk of developing acute lymphocytic leukemia (ALL), according to new research published online today in Blood, the Journal of the American Society of Hematology (ASH). The study suggests the risk is even greater in Hispanic children.

Although it has long been suspected that infection plays a role in childhood ALL, the most common form of childhood leukemia, this is the first time researchers have tracked ALL back to a specific virus.

Researchers first identified all known infections present in the bone marrow of 127 children diagnosed with ALL and 38 children diagnosed with acute myeloid leukemia (AML). A state-of-the-art assay screened samples for all known viruses. They detected CMV DNA in the bone marrow samples from children with ALL but rarely in those with AML.

Next, the scientists used an ultra-sensitive digital droplet screen to examine newborn blood samples for CMV from 268 children who went on to develop ALL. They compared the samples with healthy children (270). ALL typically develops in children between the ages of two and six.

"Our goal in tracking CMV back from the time of diagnosis to the womb was to establish that this infection occurred well before initiation of disease," said lead study author Stephen Francis, PhD, assistant professor of epidemiology at the University of Nevada and University of California, San Francisco. Study collaborators also included investigators at the University of California, Berkeley, where the California Childhood Leukemia Study -- through which investigators obtained the bone marrow samples -- is based.

The study shows that children who went on to develop ALL are 3.71 times more likely to be CMV-positive at birth. Moreover, stratification by Hispanic ethnicity shows a 5.9-fold increased risk of ALL in Hispanics infected perinatally with CMV. This is important because Hispanics are at the highest risk for developing ALL.

"If it's truly that in utero CMV is one of the initiating events in the development of childhood leukemia, then control of the virus has the potential to be a prevention target," Dr. Francis said. "That's the real take-home message."

Up to 80 percent of Americans are infected with CMV. The virus is normally dormant, causing few symptoms. But during pregnancy the virus can flare up and be transmitted to the fetus, causing serious consequences such as birth defects and hearing loss in newborns.

While this research is in the early stages, the researchers hope these results will inspire more studies that will validate these findings and lead to the development of a CMV vaccine.

"This is the first step, but if we do end up finding a causal link to the most common childhood cancer, we hope that will light a fire in terms of stopping mother-to-child transmission of CMV," Dr. Francis said.
-end-
Blood, the most cited peer-reviewed publication in the field of hematology, is available weekly in print and online. Blood is the official journal of the American Society of Hematology (ASH), the world's largest professional society concerned with the causes and treatment of blood disorders.

ASH's mission is to further the understanding, diagnosis, treatment, and prevention of disorders affecting blood, bone marrow, and the immunologic, hemostatic, and vascular systems by promoting research, clinical care, education, training, and advocacy in hematology.

blood® is a registered trademark of the American Society of Hematology.

American Society of Hematology

Related Bone Marrow Articles:

Nanoparticles can turn off genes in bone marrow cells
Using specialized nanoparticles, MIT engineers have developed a way to turn off specific genes in cells of the bone marrow, which play an important role in producing blood cells.
How stress affects bone marrow
Researchers from Tokyo Medical and Dental University (TMDU) identified the protein CD86 as a novel marker of infection- and inflammation-induced hematopoietic responses.
3D atlas of the bone marrow -- in single cell resolution
Stem cells located in the bone marrow generate and control the production of blood and immune cells.
Dangerous bone marrow, organ transplant complication explained
Scientists have discovered the molecular mechanism behind how the common cytomegalovirus can wreak havoc on bone marrow and organ transplant patients, according to a paper published in the journal Cell & Host Microbe.
Viagra shows promise for use in bone marrow transplants
Researchers at UC Santa Cruz have demonstrated a new, rapid method to obtain donor stem cells for bone marrow transplants using a combination of Viagra and a second drug called Plerixafor.
Bone marrow may be the missing piece of the fertility puzzle
A woman's bone marrow may determine her ability to start and sustain a pregnancy, report Yale researchers in PLOS Biology.
Cells that make bone marrow also travel to the womb to help pregnancy
Bone marrow-derived cells play a role in changes to the mouse uterus before and during pregnancy, enabling implantation of the embryo and reducing pregnancy loss, according to research published Sept.
Uncovering secrets of bone marrow cells and how they differentiate
Researchers mapped distinct bone marrow niche populations and their differentiation paths for the bone marrow factory that starts from mesenchymal stromal cells and ends with three types of cells -- fat cells, bone-making cells and cartilage-making cells.
Zebrafish help researchers explore alternatives to bone marrow donation
UC San Diego researchers discover new role for epidermal growth factor receptor in blood stem cell development, a crucial key to being able to generate them in the laboratory, and circumvent the need for bone marrow donation.
New material will allow abandoning bone marrow transplantation
Scientists from the National University of Science and Technology 'MISIS' developed nanomaterial, which will be able to restore the internal structure of bones damaged due to osteoporosis and osteomyelitis.
More Bone Marrow News and Bone Marrow Current Events

Trending Science News

Current Coronavirus (COVID-19) News

Top Science Podcasts

We have hand picked the top science podcasts of 2020.
Now Playing: TED Radio Hour

Listen Again: The Power Of Spaces
How do spaces shape the human experience? In what ways do our rooms, homes, and buildings give us meaning and purpose? This hour, TED speakers explore the power of the spaces we make and inhabit. Guests include architect Michael Murphy, musician David Byrne, artist Es Devlin, and architect Siamak Hariri.
Now Playing: Science for the People

#576 Science Communication in Creative Places
When you think of science communication, you might think of TED talks or museum talks or video talks, or... people giving lectures. It's a lot of people talking. But there's more to sci comm than that. This week host Bethany Brookshire talks to three people who have looked at science communication in places you might not expect it. We'll speak with Mauna Dasari, a graduate student at Notre Dame, about making mammals into a March Madness match. We'll talk with Sarah Garner, director of the Pathologists Assistant Program at Tulane University School of Medicine, who takes pathology instruction out of...
Now Playing: Radiolab

What If?
There's plenty of speculation about what Donald Trump might do in the wake of the election. Would he dispute the results if he loses? Would he simply refuse to leave office, or even try to use the military to maintain control? Last summer, Rosa Brooks got together a team of experts and political operatives from both sides of the aisle to ask a slightly different question. Rather than arguing about whether he'd do those things, they dug into what exactly would happen if he did. Part war game part choose your own adventure, Rosa's Transition Integrity Project doesn't give us any predictions, and it isn't a referendum on Trump. Instead, it's a deeply illuminating stress test on our laws, our institutions, and on the commitment to democracy written into the constitution. This episode was reported by Bethel Habte, with help from Tracie Hunte, and produced by Bethel Habte. Jeremy Bloom provided original music. Support Radiolab by becoming a member today at Radiolab.org/donate.     You can read The Transition Integrity Project's report here.