According to the Robert Koch Institute (RKI), around 12,000 people in Germany develop leukemia every year. Six percent of them are children under 15 years of age. Statistics from the German Cancer Society show that around 10 percent of them suffer from CML, around 50 percent from CLL and around 40 percent from acute forms of ALL and AML.
Acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL) is most common in children ages three to seven and in young adults. In contrast, Acute myeloid leukemia and Chronic myeloid leukemia (AML and CML) are most common in middle-aged and older adults; Chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL) occurs mainly in people over the age of 50. People between the ages of 60 and 70 are most likely to have some form of blood cancer, with men being more prone to the disease than women.
The chances of survival have improved
Although the chances of survival in leukemia cases have improved significantly over the past few decades, the five-year survival rate is still only around 40% on average. Whether a patient survives or not depends largely on the type of leukemia (acute or chronic). Children have the best prospects. wadays numbers between 80% and 85% are reached.
As with other cancers, chemotherapy is the first line of treatment. Then comes induction therapy and finally consolidation and maintenance therapy. Scientists at the Friedrich-Alexander-Universität Erlangen-Nürnberg (FAU) in Germany have now found another alternative method that at least improves the chances of recovery through a special diet.
Boring but very effective. An experimental diet without the protein components serine and glycine. (Photo: FAU)
Researchers from FAU's Department of Genetics, Medical Clinic V, and the Department of Pediatric Oncology and Hematology at Erlangen University Hospital have investigated the mechanisms by which a particularly aggressive type of leukemia develops – one that occurs mainly in children, occasionally also in adults. They were able to clarify how the affected blood cells could multiply unusually quickly.
Special feed is effective in animal models
"The genetic mutations in the leukemia cells force them to divide endlessly and quickly," explains lead researcher Prof. Dr. Robert Slany from the FAU Department of Genetics. "And although they are able to adapt their metabolism, this also leads to an increased need for certain protein components, which the malignant cells also have to obtain from the blood."
The scientists were then able to exploit this effect in the animal models and significantly slow down the progression of the disease through a special diet that does not contain the protein components that the leukemia cells need. This particular diet alone would have enabled them to achieve results "that could otherwise only be achieved through the administration of highly effective chemotherapeutic drugs." The researchers are currently investigating to what extent this strategy can also be used in clinics. Professor Doctor.
Robert Slany and his colleague have published the results of their study in the journal "Blood Advances".