Tomas Lindahl, Paul Modrich and Aziz Sancar, have received the 2015 Nobel Prize for Chemistry for their ground breaking research into how each cell in our body copes with an estimated 10,000 DNA damage events every day. Subsequent research into DNA repair has offered remarkable opportunities to improve our health, with the returns on that research certain to underpin huge changes in how we treat genetic diseases and cancer this century:
As is stated in the article, "Almost all cancers exhibit a phenomenon known as “genome instability” – accumulation of DNA damage which is inadequately repaired. Paradoxically, it is this very feature which renders cancer cells more susceptible to killing by additional sources of DNA damage, such as radiation therapy and some forms of chemotherapy." “Genome instability” is why we have clonal evolution in CLL.
The big breakthrough in treating "Chronic Myeloid Leukemia," or CML, a cousin blood cancer to CLL, was discovering that about 90% of CML is caused by what's called the "Philadelphia Chromosome", where a piece of chromosome 9 sticks to a piece of chromosome 22. This led to the development of imatinib/Gleevec, which dramatically increased the length of time patients with CML can survive with the disease:
Unfortunately, CLL researchers trying to achieve the same kind of breakthrough, have been disappointed to find that there are many possible genetic causes behind CLL - and that's why it is taking so long to find a cure for CLL...