Dr. Marshall Horwitz of the University of Washington was in suburban Rosemont Sunday. He helped identify the defect.
Horwitz said it's not clear that early detection of leukemia will make a difference, but there are some benefits to identifying this gene.
For instance, one of the key treatments for leukemia is a bone marrow transplant. The donor is often a family member so the transplant isn't rejected, but for some patients, that could pose a risk.
"In cases where it does run in families, or it's suspected to run in families, you'd want to make sure that the transplanted marrow that you're giving to the patient is not one that's also destined to develop leukemia," Horwitz said.
Horwitz was in town for the Leukemia Research Foundation's Medical Awards Luncheon. The group helped fund some of his research.