Sidney Kimmel Cancer Center at Thomas Jefferson University Discovers Groundbreaking Survival Protein for Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma

Published: Friday, Jan 20, 2017

Scientists from the Sidney Kimmel Cancer Center at Thomas Jefferson University have pinpointed a survival protein for patients suffering from non-Hodgkin's lymphoma. A study led by Dr. Christine M. Eischen, a Professor in the Department of Cancer Biology and Co-Leader of the Molecular Biology and Genetics Program at the Sidney Kimmel Cancer Center, is now published in the Journal of Clinical Investigation. Extensive research discloses reveals that a protein called Bcl-w plays a significant role in lymphoma development and lymphoma cell survival. “The finding is profound for scientists working to find the best course of treatment,” shares Christine M. Eischen, PhD. “The impact is crucial as it provides great new insight into how lymphomas develop and survive.”

Two different types of non-Hodgkin's lymphoma: Burkitt lymphoma and diffuse large B cell lymphoma, were found to have increased Bcl-w levels, which protect them from dying and, thus promote lymphoma progression. The research shows that targeted inactivation of the protein destroys lymphoma cells, further showing that this tactic may be utilized for the treatment of lymphoma, including Burkitt lymphoma, which is a primarily ay childhood cancer.

Experts Dr. Eischen's team also discovered that elevated levels of Bcl-w in diffuse large B cell lymphoma directly connect with aresult in decreased patient survival. This further demonstrates that that Bcl-w levels can serve as a prognostic marker for this malignancy and perhaps other types of lymphoma. Researchers found that Bcl-w levels are regulated by a commonly known cancer driver, the Myc oncoprotein, through the modulation of small RNA molecules, uncovering a potentially widespread regulatory mechanism for lymphoma generation and survival. “A greater understanding of how lymphoma arises at the cellular level and how it survives can help us to devise better diagnostic tests to detect lymphoma in the early stages, and to improve treatment of lymphoma patients in the future,” says Dr. Eischen.

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