Acute myeloid leukaemia (AML) is an aggressive and molecularly diverse disease with a poor overall survival of 20-25%. With an annual incidence of 2.9 per 100,000, AML is currently the commonest myeloid malignancy in Europe, yet the two main therapeutic options for this disease, anthracyclines and purine analogues, have remained unchanged for over 20 years. Currently patients are stratified at diagnosis according to a series of clinicopathological parameters (e.g. age, white cell count and presence/absence of previous clonal haematological disease) and molecular markers (e.g. chromosomal translocations/deletions, aneuploidy and mutations in genes such as FLT3 and NPM1). Patients with adverse prognostic features, whose prognosis is particularly poor (e.g. <15% long-term survival) are offered treatment with allogeneic bone marrow transplantation (allo-BMT) if a sibling or unrelated donor is available. This can significantly improve survival (e.g. up to 40% long-term survival in some contexts), albeit at the expense of significant toxicity and transplant-related mortality (TRM). Allo-BMT is thought to work in part by allowing the delivery of large doses of chemotherapy followed by haemopoietic "rescue" with donor haemopoietic stem cells (haemopoietic failure would otherwise ensue). However, potentially the most potent effect of allo-BMT is the cytotoxic effect of donor lymphocytes against AML blasts, a phenomenon known as graft-vs-leukaemia (GVL) effect. Increasingly, transplants using reduced chemotherapy intensity (mini-allografts) are being used that partially circumvent the toxicity from chemotherapy and rely on GVL to effect cure. Nevertheless, AML relapse after allo-BMT still occurs at a significant rate of up to 80% depending on the type of transplant. There is accumulating evidence that genetic events in residual leukaemic cells enable them to evade immunodetection and therefore survive the GVL effect and expand to cause relapse. The most striking example of this is the loss of HLA antigens after transplants in which donor and recipient are not fully HLA-matched. In these cases, the leukaemia "deletes" the genomic region containing the disparate HLA antigen which was preferentially targeted as "foreign" by the GVL effect. However, the genetic basis of immune evasion in the majority of transplants, which are fully HLA matched, is not known. One possibility is that loss of genes coding for antigens outside the HLA locus but which are also targets of GVL may operate, alternatively genetic events that affect processes downstream of immunological cytotoxicity may be responsible.The identification of genetic events that mediate immune evasion would not only facilitate the understanding of this process but can help plan therapeutic interventions that improve the outcomes of allogeneic transplantation for AML and other disorders. We intend to study this by conducting exome sequencing on 6 cases of AMLs from patients that attend my clinic at Addenbrooke's hospital and have relapsed after allogeneic transplantation. Samples from AML diagnosis, remission/normal and AML relapse (total n=18) will be studied to identify somatic mutations in the primary AML and those acquired by the relapsed clone. The 18 samples will also be studied by array CGH to detect regions of genomic amplification or deletion.
- Type: Other
- Archiver: European Genome-Phenome Archive (EGA)