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Bedside to bench in juvenile myelomonocytic leukemia: insights into leukemogenesis from a rare pediatric leukemia

Tiffany Y. Chang, Christopher C. Dvorak and Mignon L. Loh

Abstract

Juvenile myelomonocytic leukemia (JMML) is a typically aggressive myeloid neoplasm of childhood that is clinically characterized by overproduction of monocytic cells that can infiltrate organs, including the spleen, liver, gastrointestinal tract, and lung. JMML is categorized as an overlap MPN/MDS by the World Health Organization and also shares some clinical and molecular features with chronic myelomonocytic leukemia, a similar disease in adults. While the current standard of care for patients with JMML relies on allogeneic hematopoietic stem cell transplant (HSCT), relapse is the most frequent cause of treatment failure. Tremendous progress has been made in defining the genomic landscape of JMML. Insights from cancer predisposition syndromes have led to the discovery of nearly 90% of driver mutations in JMML, all of which thus far converge on the Ras signaling pathway. This has improved our ability to accurately diagnose patients, develop molecular markers to measure disease burden, and choose therapeutic agents to test in clinical trials. This review emphasizes recent advances in the field including mapping of the genomic and epigenome landscape, insights from new and existing disease models, targeted therapeutics, and future directions.

  • Submitted March 12, 2014.
  • Accepted August 12, 2014.