Blood test could predict future risk of leukaemia

A blood test could predict risk of developing leukaemia in the elderly population years in advance by identifying changes in blood cell production, according to new research from the Universities of Glasgow and Edinburgh. Leukaemia is often the result of the disruption to the fine balance in blood cell production where new cells are manufactured and old blood cells die. As we age, mutations in blood stem cells can mean that the altered cells can have a growth benefit over other blood cells and outnumber them in what is referred to as fitness advantage. 

Researchers investigated how changes in fitness advantage that occur in blood production might provide clues to risk of developing leukemia depending on the type of mutation that occurs. By identifying those most at risk it should be possible to provide preventive or early treatment in the future to improve patient outcomes.