Gene PPM1D gives stem cells a ‘winning boost’ after chemotherapy

Chemotherapy has been associated with increased risk of leukemia years after the treatment, but what leads to that association is not clear. In this study published in the journal Cell Stem Cell, a team led by researchers at Baylor College of Medicine and MD Anderson Cancer Center combined clinical and laboratory studies to show that a gene called PPM1D, whose function in blood production was unknown, can confer blood cells exposed to the chemotherapy agent cisplatin a survival advantage that might favor the development of leukemia years later. The study suggests that the presence of this and other mutations should be considered when choosing chemotherapies.