After this year’s March Madness Tournament, many people are wondering whether predictive measures have any relation to outcome in the real world. Luckily, scientists are too busy to watch that many basketball games.
Since the best defense is a good offense, researchers from Luxembourg and Seattle teamed up to try to identify markers that could be used to accurately predict the outcome of patients with chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL). They compared extracellular microRNAs from CLL patients to those from healthy controls and patients with other types of hematological malignancies. Here is what they found:
- Patients with CLL had significantly more circulating miRNA species than healthy controls
- The levels of specific miRNAs were able to stratify CLL patients into different clinical subgroups.
- A putative regulatory network involving miRNAs appears to regulate BCL2 and ZAP-70 in CLL.
- The level of miR-20a in the plasma of CLL patients correlated with the time from diagnosis to treatment.
The specific microRNAs identified by this team may assist in the early diagnosis of CLL and accurate stratification of CLL patients, currently the best lines of defense against this disease.
For the play-by-play see PNAS April 2011.