Identification of new oncogenes in the development of acute myeloid luekaemias & myelodysplastic syndromes

Lead researcher

A/Prof Harshal Nandurkar, A/Prof Lynda Campbell, Dr Andrew Wei

St Vincent's Hospital, Melbourne

Years funded

Cancer is a consequence of changes in genes that ultimately give a survival advantage to cells. Common genes that are altered are oncogenes (these are ‘activated', or function is enhanced) and tumour suppressors (gate keeper genes that are ‘inactivated' or lost).

Genes are present on chromosomes and detailed analysis of chromosomes provides clues about the genetic changes. We studied chromosomes from several patients with a form of leukaemia called AML and identified a chromosome area which was present in multiple copies.

This region on chromosome 20 may contain one or more leukaemia-causing Oncogene. We have also noted that certain refgions of chromosome 20 are often absent in AML patients and that this region may contain a tumour suppressor gene that is lost. We have shortlisted several possible oncogenes and one tumour suppressor gene.

In this grant, we propose to study the methods by which the gene alterations cause leukaemia.