Researchers Find Genetic Variant Contributing to Disparities in Childhood Leukemia Risk

The variant, located on the IKZF1 gene, helps explain why Hispanic/Latino children face a higher risk of acute lymphoblastic leukemia and offers insights on what causes the disease

Acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL), the most common childhood cancer, disproportionately affects children of Hispanic/Latino origin in the United States. They are 30-40% more likely to get ALL than non-Hispanic white children, but the exact genetic basis and cause of that increased risk are unknown. Now, a study from the Keck School of Medicine of USC and collaborating institutions has revealed a key genetic variant contributing towards the increased risk, as well as details about the biological basis of ALL. The team used genetic fine-mapping analysis, a statistical method that allows researchers to disentangle the separate effects of genetic variants in a region of the genome. The scientists identified a variant found at a relatively high frequency in people of Hispanic/Latino origin that increases ALL risk by approximately 1.4 times. The study, funded in part by the National Institutes of Health, was published March 26, 2024 in Cell Genomics. The open-access article is titled “A Noncoding Regulatory Variant in IKZF1 Increases Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia Risk in Hispanic/Latino Children.”

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