The Hospital for Sick Children
Co-applicant: Dr. Hans Hitzler
Late neurocognitive deficits in ALL survivors: DNA methylation biomarkers
Treatment of childhood leukemia is very effective; however, treatment can interfere with normal brain development in up to 50% of children treated. Brain functions such as attention, memory and intelligence can be affected leading to problems with learning and social skills. Importantly, these effects may only appear years after treatment has ended and are therefore called late effects. Our recent research suggests that patterns in epigenetic markers, i.e. changes to the DNA that controls whether genes are turned on or off, can help us understand how late effects develop in leukemia survivors. These epigenetic markers are stable over the years following treatment and have the potential to be used as a predictive tool for damaging effects on brain development. Our study aims to identify epigenetic markers in bone marrow cells collected during routine testing early in chemotherapy treatment to learn more about the possible causes of late effects. This information could help us predict which children are most susceptible to late effects. Additionally, these findings will enable the advancement of our understanding of the mechanisms of late effects, the development of early biomarkers, and the potential for early more personalized interventions.