Childhood acute myeloid leukemia is a heterogeneous group of disorders that remains challenging to treat. There are multiple common genetic alterations in childhood acute myeloid leukemia. These include chromosomal translocations affecting RUNX1 -CBFβ, RARα, and MLL. There are known activating mutations in the genes for the receptor tyrosine kinases FLT3, KIT, and FMS. As these abnormalities are better understood, they are providing important insights into the pathogenesis of disease as well as information about prognosis. Although intensive chemotherapy remains the mainstay of acute myeloid leukemia therapy, long-term cure rates with chemotherapy alone remain approximately 50%, creating an urgent need for better therapies. Multiple avenues are being explored in the design of new treatments for pediatric acute myeloid leukemia. Targeted therapies include targeted antibody therapy; inhibitors of FLT3, KIT, and farnesyltransferase; diphtheria toxin conjugated to the granulocyte-macrophage colony-stimulating factor; and antisense oligonucleotides. Another area of interest is chromatin remodeling and differentiation therapy, including agents such as all-trans retinoic acid, arsenic trioxide, and inhibitors of DNA methylation and histone deacetylation. There are also ongoing trials of antiangiogenesis agents. Another avenue for novel therapies is immunotherapy with agents such as interleukin-2 and tumor vaccines. This article reviews recent advances in understanding of the molecular basis for childhood acute myeloid leukemia and the design of novel therapies for the treatment of childhood acute myeloid leukemia.
ASJC Scopus subject areas