This site is intended for healthcare professionals only

Ageing linked to increased risk of leukaemia

Written by: | Published:

The elderly have an increased risk of leukaemia The elderly have an increased risk of leukaemia

The chance of developing genetic mutations in blood cells that can lead to leukaemia increases as a person gets older, a study published in Cell Reports has found.

The study, performed by researchers at the Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute, used a technique called 'ultra-deep sequencing' to analyse blood samples from 4129 people without health conditions. The study found that 20 per cent of people aged between 50 and 60 had genetic defects associated with developing leukaemia. The proportion rose in line with age, with 70 per cent of people over the age of 90 possessing the defects. This will help in understanding elderly health.

Dr George Vassiliou, one of the study's authors, said: 'These mutations will be harmless for the majority of people but for a few unlucky carriers they will take the body on a journey towards leukaemia. We had suspected people had these mutations, but didn't expect they would be an almost inevitable consequence of ageing.'

However, the study noted that despite the large number of genetic defects identified in older people, a mutation in a gene called NPM1, which is a key trigger of leukaemia, was not found in any of the participants. The study's authors suggested that there was a need for an additional genetic trigger for the disease.

Dr Thomas McKerrell, an author of the study, said: 'Leukaemia results from the gradual accumulation of DNA mutations in blood stem cells, in a process that can take decades. Over time, the probability of these cells acquiring mutations rises. What surprised us was that we found these mutations in such a large proportion of elderly people. This study helps us understand how ageing can lead to leukaemia, even though the great majority of people will not live long enough to accumulate all the mutations required to develop the disease.'

What do you think? Leave a comment below or tweet your views to @IndyNurseMag

This material is protected by MA Healthcare Ltd copyright.
See Terms and Conditions.

Comments

Name
 
Email
 
Comments
 

Please view our Terms and Conditions before leaving a comment.

Change the CAPTCHA codeSpeak the CAPTCHA code
 

Most read articles from Practice Nursing Journal

Practice Nursing Journal latest issue and most read articles.

Click here to read a selection of free to access articles from Practice Nursing Journal

Newsletter

Sign up to the newsletter

About

Independent Nurse is the professional resource for primary care and community nurses, providing clinical articles for practice nurses and prescribers.

Newsletter

Subscribe to our newsletter and stay up to date with the latest nursing news.

Stay Connected

Stay social with Independent Nurse by following us on Twitter, liking us on Facebook or connecting on LinkedIn.

Archive

Need access to some of our older articles? You can view our archive, or alternatively contact us.

Contact Us

MA Healthcare Ltd.
St Jude's Church, Dulwich Road
London, SE24 0PB

Tel: +44 (0)20 7738 5454
Registered in England and Wales No. 01878373

Meet the team

Authors

Find out how to contribute to Independent Nurse here.