BizJournals.com reports that St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital has found a link between childhood leukemia and the genetics in the parents of the child. Robert Karofsky was encouraged by the new research.
Citing research found in the scientific journal Nature Genetics, BizJournals.com reports that there is new hope in fighting a tough form of childhood leukemia.
Researchers at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital in Memphis have found a link between children diagnosed with hypodiploid acute lymphoblastic leukemia and the genetics found in the child’s parents. The disease isn’t very common but it has been notoriously difficult to fight in two particular subtypes. Just two out of every five patients diagnosed with one of the two major subtypes will survive long term, compared to nine out of every ten patients not suffering from one of these subtypes. Only one to two percent of the average 3,000 children diagnosed with hypodiploid ALL are a part of these two subtypes.
Robert Karofsky is not surprised the findings came from work at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, which was opened in 1962 by Danny Thomas with the hopes of curing debilitating pediatric diseases. The hospital is funded solely by private donations and has an average daily operating cost of $1.8 million. Robert Karofsky says one of the most impressive parts of the hospital is that no patients pay for their stays at St. Jude, which means no family is ever turned away for not being able to pay for treatment.
Hypodiploid ALL patients typically have less than 44 chromosomes per cell, while normal humans have 46 in each cell. The evidence shows that 33 percent of patients with one subtype, low hypodiploid ALL, have Li-Fraumeni syndrome. Hypodiploid ALL was not before recognized as a mutation of Li-Fraumeni syndrome, which is handed down in families and creates a high risk for cancer. The other subtype is near haploid ALL. Low hypodiploid ALL patients are categorized by having between 32 and 39 chromosomes and near haploid ALL patients have between 24 and 31.
Stephen Hunger, a co-author of the research paper and the chair of the Children’s Oncology Group ALL committee, says this research is incredibly important in treating patients with the two rare subsets of hypodiploid ALL. He says credit goes to Hank Schueler, a teenager who passed away from hypodiploid ALL and urged everyone to find a cure. His parents established a fund to help research the disease.
Robert Karofsky is a long-time banking professional and donates to many major medical organizations and charities including St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital.