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Clin Lymphoma Myeloma Leuk. 2010 Oct;10 Suppl 3:S139-43. doi: 10.3816/CLML.2010.s.027.

Utilization of molecular phenotypes to detect relapse and optimize the management of acute promyelocytic leukemia.

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Department of Biopathology, University Tor Vergata, Via Montpellier 1, Rome, Italy.


Acute promyelocytic leukemia (APL) is characterized by a unique genetic aberration, the t(15;17) chromosome translocation. Translocation breakpoints are located within the promyelocytic leukemia (PML) locus on chromosome 15 and the retinoic acid receptor alpha (RARA) locus on chromosome 17. In the past 2 decades, critical advances have been made in understanding the molecular pathogenesis of APL. APL represents a paradigm for molecularly targeted therapy in cancer and an extraordinary model for translational research in medicine. In fact, the release of differentiation block upon treatment of APL with all-trans-retinoic acid (ATRA) has represented the first example of targeted therapy in human cancer. More recently, the advent of arsenic trioxide (ATO) has allowed further progress in the management of this disease through improved outcomes in patients receiving this agent in combination with ATRA. Finally, optimization of therapy and minimization of toxicity is feasible in this disease through careful monitoring of residual disease using polymerase chain reaction-based approaches targeting the PML-RARA fusion gene.

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