High levels of an enzyme known to suppress the immune system can put patients diagnosed with the most common form of leukemia at risk of premature death, according to researchers, including one of Indian origin.
High levels of this enzyme, indoleamine 2,3-dioxygenase, or IDO, at the time of diagnosis can also identify those who could benefit most from taking an IDO inhibitor along with its standard therapy, said the study published in the Scientific Reports magazine.
"We want to help people who do not respond to treatment and are dying shortly after their diagnosis," said Ravindra Kolhe of the Georgia School of Medicine at the University of Augusta in the United States.
The investigators found that increased IDO expression in bone marrow biopsy of patients with acute myeloid leukemia or AML correlated with lower rates of overall survival and early mortality.
It also indicates that the expression of IDO should be measured routinely when performing diagnostic bone marrow biopsy, said Kolhe.
An early-stage clinical trial is underway to begin exploring the clinical potential of the IDO inhibitor in these patients, the researchers said.
"We wanted to see what makes this leukemia so aggressive that the initial induction chemotherapy does not work," Kolhe said.
While everyone has the IDO gene, it is the cancer cells in this scenario that activate the deactivator of the immune response, he said.
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