WHAT IS CML?

Dr. Daniel Vorobiof, Chief Medical Director at Belong.Life explains:

Normal human cells growth and function is mainly based on the information contained in each cell’s chromosomes. These are long DNA packages which accumulate in each cell.  Each time a cell prepares to divide into 2 new cells, it must make a new copy of the DNA in its chromosomes. This process is not perfect, and errors can occur that may affect genes within the DNA.

Cancers can be caused by changes in DNA (what is called a mutation) that turn on or off some genes. Scientists have made great progress in understanding how certain changes in DNA can cause normal bone marrow cells to become leukemia cells. And this is well understood in chronic myeloid leukemia (CML).  For long time it is known that a human cell contains 23 pairs of chromosomes. Most cases of CML happens when DNA is “swapped” between 2 chromosomes named 9 and 22.  Part of chromosome 9 goes to 22 and part of 22 goes to 9. That is called a translocation. This new abnormal chromosome is named the Philadelphia chromosome, and is found in the leukemia cells of almost all patients living with CML.

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