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New research provides breakthrough in understanding common cancer
Date:6/8/2011

Researchers from the University of Sheffield have discovered valuable insight into how people develop B-cell lymphoma, one of the most common cancers in the UK.

The team, from the University's Institute for Cancer Studies and funded by Leukaemia and Lymphoma Research, Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC) and Yorkshire Cancer Research, found that a mechanism different to that previously thought to be the cause of lymphoma may be responsible for the development of the disease.

Lymphoma is a type of cancer that affects the blood, originating in the lymph glands. B-cells are the immune cells in the human body that are responsible for producing antibodies to fight infections and provide long-term immunity. B-cell lymphomas include both Hodgkin's lymphomas and most non-Hodgkin's lymphomas.

Prior to this research, the main theory to explain the origins of lymphoma was the malfunction of a mechanism (somatic hypermutation) used by B-cells to modify the genes coding for antibodies. This mechanism is required to produce highly specific antibodies, but it also accidentally alters other genes, leading to lymphoma.

However, the team from the University knew that this theory only accounted for affecting a handful of genes, and the model could only explain certain types of lymphoma.

Led by Dr Thierry Nouspikel, the researchers discovered another mechanism, which potentially affects many more genes and can account for a wider palette of lymphomas. The research found that B-cells actually do not repair the bulk of their DNA and only take care of the few genes they are using. When the B-cells are inert in the blood flow, this is not a problem. However, when they receive a stimulation (e.g. an infection) they start to proliferate and then produce antibodies.

To proliferate they must replicate their DNA, and replication of damaged DNA results in the introduction of mutations, the accumulation of wh
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Contact: Amy Stone, Media Relations Officer
a.f.stone@sheffield.ac.uk
01-142-221-046
University of Sheffield
Source:Eurekalert

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