Although virtually all pediatric patients with acute myeloid leukemia (AML) achieve a complete remission after initial induction therapy, 30%-40% of patients will encounter a relapse and have a dismal prognosis. To prevent relapses, personalized treatment strategies are currently being developed, which target specific molecular aberrations. To determine relevance of established AML type I/II mutations that may serve as therapeutic targets, we assessed frequencies of these mutations and their persistence during disease progression in a large group (n = 69) of paired diagnosis and relapse pediatric AML specimens. In 26 of 42 patients (61%) harboring mutations at either stage of the disease, mutation status changed between diagnosis and relapse, particularly in FLT3, WT1, and RAS genes. Presence or gain of type I/II mutations at relapse was associated with a shorter time to relapse (TTR), whereas absence or loss correlated with longer TTR. Moreover, an adverse outcome was found for patients with activating mutations at relapse, which was statistically significant for FLT3/ITD and WT1 mutations. These findings suggest that mutational shifts affect disease progression. We hence propose that risk stratification, malignant cell detection, and selection of personalized treatment should be based on status of type I/II mutations both at initial diagnosis and during follow-up.

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Bachas, C, Schuurhuis, G.J, Hollink, I.H.I.M, Kwidama, Z.J, Goemans, B.F, Zwaan, C.M, … Cloos, J. (2010). High-frequency type I/II mutational shifts between diagnosis and relapse are associated with outcome in pediatric AML: Implications for personalized medicine. Blood, 116(15), 2752–2758. doi:10.1182/blood-2010-03-276519