In November 1996, word reached the University of Washington that Philip Fialkow and his wife, Helen, had died while trekking in Nepal. Over a 30-year period, Dr Fialkow and his colleagues used the cellular mosaicism resulting from X-chromosome inactivation in females as a marker system to investigate the clonal development of human hematopoietic disorders. This review discusses the impact that these studies have had on our understanding of hematopoietic stem cell relationships and the pathogenesis of human neoplasia in general. To appreciate the special role played by studies on clonality, it is necessary to consider how little was known about the origin of leukemias and myeloproliferative disorders and the limited techniques available for their study in the early to mid 1960s. Dr Fialkow and his coworkers were the first to show that myeloproliferative disorders and acute myelogenous leukemias (AML) are clonal diseases at the time of diagnosis and to elucidate the level of differentiation manifested by the originating cell type. Although the myelodysplastic disorders were found to involve a pluripotent stem cell, heterogeneity was found in the level of stem cell involvement in AML. Evidence was obtained to support a multistep pathogenesis of these diseases as well as a clonal but cytogenetically normal stage in some cases of Ph-positive chronic myelogenous leukemia, AML, acute lymphoblastic leukemia and myelodysplasia.
- Multistep pathogenesis
- Myeloproliferative disorders