UC BERKELEY: Wins $4.5M Grant to Study Childhood Leukemia
In the "most ambitious effort yet to discover the causes" of childhood leukemia, the University of California-Berkeley's School of Public Health has won a $4.5 million grant from the National Institutes of Health to expand a current study from 150 to 400 children. The comparative study will match every child with leukemia in 35 counties to two healthy children with similar geographic and socioeconomic status for a total of 1,200 research subjects. Researchers do not know what causes 90% of childhood leukemia cases, but will investigate potential factors such as diet, genetics, infections, electromagnetic fields and pollution. "It's unusual to know so little about the cause of a disease. Childhood leukemia is still relatively rare, and you need a large study population to detect low-level associations," said lead researcher Patricia Buffler. Researchers will study the subjects' home life in detail, from taking dust samples from their rooms to measuring the "electromagnetic fields around their homes." Buffler said, "We are going to find out as much as we can regarding the causes of leukemia in children. This is a disease you want to prevent" (Contra Costa Times, 3/4).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.