ORLANDO, Fla. — Long before leukemia forms, patients often have a population of blood or hematopoietic stem cells, all copies of one another that seem perfectly healthy except for harboring key mutations often also found in malignant cells. Hematologists call this CHIP — clonal hematopoiesis of indeterminate potential — because these cells progress into cancer in about 1% of patients each year.
Now, hematologists may have one of their first windows into how to prevent that. A new study, presented Monday here at the meeting of the American Association of Cancer Research, offers a way to find mutations that drive CHIP and, possibly, a target that researchers might use to eliminate the clones before they have a chance to cause more serious conditions. But the work, as other experts pointed out, is a long way from being an actual therapeutic.