Cancer treatment of a complex type of childhood leukemia called T-cell acute lymphoblastic leukemia (T-All) has been boosted by the findings of a recent study.
Researchers at the New York University (NYU) School of Medicine have unraveled the science behind the cancer, which is carried in the blood and can make its way into the brain and spinal cord of youngsters who have relapsed.
They identified a protein called CCR7 and in trials on mice found that those with the chemokine receptor turned off lived for double the length of time than those that didn't.
Dr Ioannis Aifantis, associate professor of pathology and co-director of the Cancer Stem Cell Programme at the NYU Cancer Institute, who led the new study, commented: "We are very proud of this research and very excited about the potential implications for new therapeutic approaches to prevent or reduce the spread of leukemic cells into the central nervous system."
He added that the rate of relapse in patients with the disease was high yet the potential offered by this alternative treatment could improve such rates.
A study published in April found that children who attend some form of daycare such as a playgroup or nursery have a 30 per cent reduced risk of developing leukaemia.