The National Institute of Pediatrics (INP) in Mexico, conducted a study on genetic markers to identify children with acute leukemia, who may suffer side effects from the medications used to treat this type of cancer.
Genetic markers studies are used to identify which patients are susceptible to side effects of a drug used in chemotherapy called methotrexate, which can cause mucositis or an inflammation of the mucosa and even death.
Dr. Martin Perez Garcia, head of the research, explained that they decided to study the genetic population with acute leukemia because it is the leading cause of cancer death in children aged 2-14 years.
“When chemotherapy is applied, it can have different levels of toxicity; the reason for it to be higher or lower among patients appears to be determined by genetic markers and these can make people more susceptible to side effects”.
He said that before using it medically, they seek to establish a genetic marker to show which child is at risk and avoid giving it to them, also serving to individualize treatment.
The specialist at INP explained that they are currently performing DNA typing studies to assess levels of drug concentration. For this purpose, they have a third of the population they need to validate it, and hope to complete the investigation in two years.
This work is carried out in the INP in the clinical and medical area, and at the Laboratory of Pharmacology and using samples from patients who agreed to participate in the project. Currently 50 patients have given samples, and eventually this will grow to 160.
The protocol began three years ago and in 2013 and was accepted by the research committee. “The proposal is that all pediatric patients who are undergoing chemotherapy would be evaluated with blood tests, blood count, liver and kidney function tests, where genetic markers would be taken to adjust the treatment.”
Currently, the findings of the researcher team at INP show that there is a susceptibility in the Mexican population , the markers help identify which patients are likely to report side effects to drugs and they will make a classification in the future for all patients that undergo treatment to determine dosage adjustment.
This research received the annual prize “Profesor Miguel Alvarez Ochoa” given by Pisa Pharmaceutical, leading Mexican enterprise in the field.