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Expert Identifies Potential Biomarkers for Hairy Cell Leukemia

By James Blachly, MD

New research and techniques indicate an easier path forward for identifying hairy cell leukemia, according to James Blachly, MD.    

At the 2019 Hairy Cell Leukemia Foundation Annual Conference, Blachly presented new findings that circulating tumor DNA helped researchers show that hairy cell leukemia behaves similar to non-Hodgkin lymphomas, and thus can be detected in a similar fashion.  

Blachly, assistant professor of internal medicine and bioinformatics at The Ohio State University Comprehensive Cancer Center, had the chance to sit down with OncLive®, a sister publication to Oncology Nursing News®, and discuss these findings along with important biomarkers used to identify hairy cell leukemia.  

Circulating tumor DNA is an important emerging biomarker in many cancers, and non-cancer applications as well, but has not been previously tested in Hairy Cell Leukemia. Our study shows that hairy cell leukemia behaves like other non-Hodgkin lymphomas in that it sheds a moderate amount of cell-free DNA which is readily detectable.

The good news about hairy cell leukemia is that it is distinguished by a mono-morphic genetic driver, the BRAF mutation, which means that we have a simple, easy target that we can look for. Whereas other cancers, including other lymphomas and mature B-cell neoplasms, have a variety of mutations, with hairy cell leukemia, we have one target and we can go after it which makes it very simple and value pack proposition.
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