An investigative drug deprived non-Hodgkin lymphoma cells of their ability to survive too long and multiply too fast, according to an early study published recently in the journal Experimental Hematology.
To function normally, the cells that make up bodily tissues must "decide" when to divide and multiply (proliferate) and when to die. Cell death restricts the human cell population as a counterbalance to growth, and billions of cells must die each year just to hold the number constant. Cell growth and death are carefully regulated by signaling networks, which either encourage or discourage survival. When this counterpoise mistakenly shifts too far in favor of growth, tumors result.
One such network revolves around neurotropins, which "tell" nerve cells not to die, and to keep multiplying, as part of normal function. The same neurotrophic signals are known to cause cancers of the central nervous system when unbalanced by carcinogens. The current study found that neurotrophins also cause key immune cells to resist cell death and proliferate as part of the most deadly of lymphomas, and that an experimental compound, the fungal chemical called K252a, restored their ability to die.
Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma (NHL) is the umbrella for more than 30 cancer types that develop in an important type of white blood cell, the lymphocyte. Lymphocytes include B cells, workhorses of the immune system that attach to invaders (e.g. bacteria, viruses) and produce an army of antibodies designed to attack the specific pathogen at hand. In NHL, B cells in the lymphatic system grow abnormally, and most patients are diagnosed too late to benefit from conventional chemotherapy.
"New approaches to the treatment of non-Hodgkin Lymphoma are urgently needed, and the results of this study outline one with unusual promise," said Sanjay Maggirwar, Ph.D., associate professor in the Department of Microbiology & Immunology at the University of Rochester Medic
|Contact: Greg Williams|
University of Rochester Medical Center