Fighting Rare Blood Cancers

Dr. Ross Levine

Last year 23andMe launched a Myeloproliferative Neoplasms Research Initiative to study this group of rare blood cancers. We are now very close to reaching our goal of enrolling 1,000 patients and are encouraged by what we’ve already learned.

We’re also humbled that another star in the field of MPN research, Dr. Ross Levine, has joined our MPN Research Initiative as a research collaborator.

As with our other research communities, reaching a recruitment goal isn’t just about a number: It is about creating patient-powered research that allows participants to leverage their data and make a contribution to hasten discoveries about the causes and treatments for diseases.

We’ve already made some promising findings, including a novel finding that we’ll report in November at the 62nd annual American Society of Human Genetics meeting being held in San Francisco.

Earlier this year we also gave our customers a chance to view their own data at a region in the genome that has been observed to correlate with increased risk of developing an MPN.  We rapidly replicated an association between inherited variation in the JAK2 gene and rare blood cancers linked to another JAK2 mutation that can appear later in life. To see more go to “Rapid replication of research in MPN” on our research findings page.

Encouraged by the results, 23andMe’s Dr. Kim Barnholt, the project manager of our MPN research community, had a message for all the people who’ve joined us to participate in the research.

“Thank you for your support and help moving this research forward at such an accelerated speed,” Kim said. “We are in the final days of study recruitment so please help spread the word to anyone who might be interested in this free genotyping and research opportunity before the enrollment period ends.”

This week Kim also shared the news about Dr. Levine.

A leading MPN physician-scientist at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in New York, Dr. Levine researches the genetic basis of certain types of blood cancers, focusing primarily on the role of genetic variants involved in the development of MPNs and acute myeloid leukemia (AML).

• Do you have an MPN, or know someone who does? Learn how to join our MPN research initiative today.

As a fellow working with Gary Gilliland at Dana Farber Cancer Institute, Dr. Levine played a critical role in identifying the JAK2 V617F and other molecular abnormalities in patients with MPNs. His work in this area facilitated development of the first FDA-approved drug to treat MPNs. Dr. Levine joins our current panel of MPN experts, including Dr. Jason Gotlib, Dr. James Zehnder, and Dr. Ruben Mesa, in a collaborative effort to guide the research discovery process and future project directions.

Stay tuned for many important research announcements throughout the fall, including updates on surveys, information about new research findings, and opportunities for more ways to get involved. As always, we are grateful for your partnership in this work and look forward to continuing with you on this journey.

An interview with Dr. Levine


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