Narrator: This is Science Today. Each year,
about 25 hundred children in this country are diagnosed
with acute lymphoblastic leukemia. Joseph Wiemels,
(Wee-mills) a research molecular epidemiologist at
the University of California, San Francisco, says
this is the most common form of childhood leukemia
and it's on the rise. The goal now, is to understand
Wiemels: From understanding comes prevention.
Childhood leukemia is a very curable disease, it's
curable in seventy percent of cases, but there are
actually costs from the cure itself. The chemotherapy
can cause developmental abnormalities or secondary
cancers later in life, so the best thing to do is
Wiemels and his colleagues discovered evidence suggesting
there are two genetic changes that cause this form
of leukemia - one occurring in the womb, and the other
mutation formed in early childhood, due to environmental
Wiemels: We believe that those environmental factors have to do with an aberrant response to common infections and we believe that those infections are the cause of the second mutation.
Narrator: For Science Today, I'm Larissa Branin.