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Protracted dormancy of pre-leukemic stem cells

Lookup NU author(s): Dr Frederik van DelftORCiD



This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (CC BY 4.0).


Cancer stem cells can escape therapeutic killing by adopting a quiescent or dormant state. The reversibility of this condition provides the potential for later recurrence or relapse, potentially many years later. We describe the genomics of a rare case of childhood BCR-ABL1-positive, B-cell precursor acute lymphoblastic leukemia that relapsed, with an acute myeloblastic leukemia immunophenotype, 22 years after the initial diagnosis, sustained remission and presumed cure. The primary and relapsed leukemias shared the identical BCR-ABL1 fusion genomic sequence and two identical immunoglobulin gene rearrangements, indicating that the relapse was a derivative of the founding clone. All other mutational changes (single-nucleotide variant and copy number alterations) were distinct in diagnostic or relapse samples. These data provide unambiguous evidence that leukemia-propagating cells, most probably pre-leukemic stem cells, can remain covert and silent but potentially reactivatable for more than two decades.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Ford AM, Mansur MB, Furness CL, van Delft FW, Okamura J, Suzuki T, Kobayashi H, Kaneko Y, Greaves M

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: Leukemia

Year: 2015

Volume: 29

Issue: 11

Pages: 2202-2207

Print publication date: 01/11/2015

Online publication date: 14/07/2015

Acceptance date: 13/05/2015

Date deposited: 13/04/2016

ISSN (print): 0887-6924

ISSN (electronic): 1476-5551

Publisher: Nature Publishing Group


DOI: 10.1038/leu.2015.132


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Funder referenceFunder name
Kay Kendall Leukaemia Fund (FWvD)
Lady Tata Memorial Trust-LTMT International Award for Research in Leukaemia
Instituto Nacional de Cancer-INCA
Leukaemia and Lymphoma Research
105104/Z/14/ZWellcome Trust Strategic Award
2011/01European Hematology Association-EHA Partner Fellowship