• 24-FEB-2015

Genetic Differences Increase Risk for Painful Nerve Damage in Children Receiving Common Anti-Cancer Medication

According to a new study in the February 24 issue of JAMA, children with acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL) who had a certain gene variant experienced a higher incidence and severity of nerve damage, after receiving treatment with vincristine. Vincristine is one of the most widely used and effective anticancer agents for treating leukemia, but toxicities of treatment can adversely affect quality of life.

Researchers performed a genome-wide association study to determine whether there are genetic variants associated with these side effects. They found that patients with a particular variant of the CEP72 gene had a three times greater risk of developing nerve pain, along with impaired dexterity, balance, and altered gait.

ALL is the most common childhood cancer and future studies are planned with the hopes of lowering the dose of vincristine in susceptible patients to reduce the risk of toxicity without compromising the success of their therapy.