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Mutations in JAK3 gene identified in subtype of lymphoma provide potential drug target
Date:6/15/2012

PHILADELPHIA A substantial proportion of NK/T-cell lymphomas harbor Janus Kinase 3 gene mutations. Patients with these lymphomas might benefit from treatment with a Janus Kinase inhibitor according to a study published in Cancer Discovery, a journal of the American Association for Cancer Research.

"Very little was known about the genetic and molecular defects causing NK/T-cell lymphoma before we started this work," said Bin Tean Teh, M.D., Ph.D., director of the National Cancer Center Singapore-Van Andel Research Institute Translational Research Laboratory at the NCCS, and professor at the Duke-NUS Graduate Medical School in Singapore. "There is no effective treatment and this type of cancer carries an extremely poor prognosis.

"It is tremendously rewarding to have identified genetic mutations that appear to have an important role in driving the cancer in a considerable fraction of cases. Moreover, we are excited that there is a drug already in phase III trials for the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis that targets the mutant protein. We are in the process of planning a clinical trial to study whether this drug benefits NK/T-cell lymphoma patients," said Teh.

NK/T-cell lymphoma is a very aggressive form of lymphoma. It is particularly prevalent in Asia.

"Many years ago, I and a colleague came to the Van Andel Research Institute in Grand Rapids, Mich.," said Teh. "My colleague unfortunately developed NK/T-cell lymphoma and passed away. It was the only case of this cancer ever diagnosed in Grand Rapids. As this illustrates, it is a relatively rare subtype of lymphoma in the United States, but it is responsible for the deaths of a large number of people in Asia, in particular in China and Korea. It accounts for almost half of all T-cell lymphomas in some parts of Asia.

"The passing of my colleague, whom I was very close to, was the reason that I started studying NK/T-cell lymphoma. It has been a complicated puz
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Contact: Jeremy Moore
Jeremy.Moore@aacr.org
215-446-7109
American Association for Cancer Research
Source:Eurekalert

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