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C. Childhood Leukemia Mutation Displays a Long Latency Period

Narrator: This is Science Today. A new study has shown that a genetic mutation associated with a type of childhood leukemia commonly occurs before birth, but can lay dormant for up to twelve years. Lead researcher Joseph Wiemels of the University of California, San Francisco, says the long latency period of the genetic mutation, called a translocation, has implications for adults.

Wiemels: The translocation is occurring in a very early precursor blood cell, a cell that's going to hang around for twelve years and maybe, potentially for a lifetime. And perhaps even some adult leukemias with this translocation may have carried that translocation from the time of birth.

Narrator: The research also suggests that a second event after the prenatal, long latency period must occur to cause leukemia.

Wiemels: But maybe someday we could predict for leukemia and perhaps have some intervention to prevent the disease from getting the second event and becoming a full-blown disease.

Narrator: For Science Today, I'm Larissa Branin.