A new leukaemia oncogene on chromosome 20

Lead researcher

A/Prof Lynda Campbell, A/Prof Harshal Nandurkar, Dr Ruth MacKinnon

St Vincent's Health - Victorian Cancer Cytogenetics Service

Years funded

This project is to identify a cancer-causing gene on chromosome 20 that appears to be critical in the development of leukaemia that occurs particularly in the elderly.

As older patients are less able to withstand aggressive therapy, the hope is that this gene will provide a target for more specific and less toxic treatments.

Some patents with myeloid leukaemias have ‘lost' part of chromosome 20 together with gaining multiple copies of a small genetic area of chromosome 20 that lies adjacent to the lost 20q region. Our group has made the hypothesis that these genetic changes lead to two collaborating events causing leukaemia: first, the presence of multiple copies of an ‘oncogene' (a gene that drives leukaemia) and, second, the loss of a ‘tumour suppressor' gene that normally acts as a brake to prevent leukaemia.

Thus far, our work has prepared a short-list of the possible oncogenes and also nominated a potential tumour suppressor. In the past 12 months we have examined leukaemia samples and certain cells that also carry the 20q alteration to confirm the presence of oncogenes and loss of the tumour suppressor.

We have assembled reagents and techniques necessary to introduce the oncogenes into mouse blood cells and to concurrently remove the tumour suppressor so as to cause a leukaemia-like effect. Preliminary proof-of-principle
experimentation has been concluded and further analysis will be done over the next 12 months. 

Funding Body

Cancer Council Research Grant


$100,000 per annum