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Sub-Study Summary

Chemotherapy, genetic risk, and brain development in leukemia survivors

Short explanation of the study:

Chemotherapy is very effective in treating leukemia. Unfortunately, chemotherapy has a long-lasting impact on the brain, leaving some survivors to struggle in school. The connections between brain cells, located in the white matter of the brain, are particularly prone to damage. This may explain the impairments often seen in survivors. Not all leukemia patients have the same risk of being affected by chemotherapy. This is thought to be related to genetic factors. 

To improve the lives of cancer survivors, we need to find ways to reduce the long-lasting effects of chemotherapy particularly in children who are most vulnerable due to their genes. The goal of this study was to study the long-term impact of chemotherapy on brain development in leukemia survivors. We wanted to find out how chemotherapy affects the brain, and how genes are involved in this process. To do this, we used neuroimaging techniques that allowed us to closely inspect white matter in survivors and controls. We related white matter imaging results to results from tests of memory and attention, which are critical for long-term success in school. To assess genetic status, we collected blood samples to screen participants for gene variants in the one-carbon pathway that may put them at higher risk.