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Firefly genes allow testing of new therapy against lymphoma
Date:12/19/2007

COLUMBUS, Ohio Researchers here have figured out a way to use a firefly gene to let them see just how effective a new drug combination actually is against some forms of cancer and its serious complication.

The new study looked at ATLL, adult T-cell lymphoma and leukemia, a form of cancer where it is particularly hard to gauge the disease's progress, and where the patients' prognosis is generally poor. There is now no widely effective therapy available to treat this disease successfully.

In doing so, the researchers developed what they hope will be the first animal model for the disease that includes a severe bone depletion called humoral hypercalcemia of malignancy (HHM), a condition that can affect four out of every five ATLL patients and shorten their lives.

The study is published in the online edition of the journal Cancer Research.

These ATLL tumors secrete proteins that also cause the bones in these patients to weaken and resorb, explained Thomas Rosol, professor of veterinary biosciences and dean of the College of Veterinary Medicine at Ohio State University.

When that happens, the amount of calcium in the blood can build up to toxic levels. So killing the cancer cells in these patients is only half the battle, he says. We have to stop the resorption of bone and the release of calcium that the cancer causes.

Earlier tissue culture studies on a new anticancer drug, PS-341, showed promise in attacking the cancer cells but before now, an effective animal model wasn't available for researchers to use that included HHM's calcium buildup.

Rosol and his team turned to a combination of PS-341 and zoledronic acid, a form of bisphosphonate that is widely used now to combat the bone loss of osteoporosis and other diseases.

They would then test the two drugs, separately and combined, in a group of specialized mice that had been injected with ATLL tumor cells.

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Contact: Thomas Rosol
Thomas.Rosol@cvm.osu.edu
614-688-8749
Ohio State University  
Source:Eurekalert

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