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Research Uncovers Clues to Lymphoma

Findings from mouse model could lead to new therapeutic targets

TUESDAY, June 24 (HealthDay News) U.S. researchers say they've spotted an important factor in the development of B-cell lymphomas, one of the fastest growing forms of cancer.

In experiments with mice, researchers at the National Jewish Medical and Research Center, Denver, found that the B-cell receptor on the surface of B-cells can cooperate with the MYC oncogene to accelerate the development of lymphomas. They also found that disrupting signals from the B-cell receptor can inhibit tumor growth.

Oncogenes are genes thought to encourage cancer. It was already known that the oncogene MYC played an important role in the development of lymphomas. It wasn't known whether the B-cell receptor on the surface of B-cells also played a crucial role.

The new findings, which may help lead to new treatments, were published in the June 24 issue of the journal PLoS Biology.

"Non-Hodgkin lymphomas, about 90 percent of which are B-cell lymphomas, have become 85 percent more prevalent in the past 20 years, the only major form of cancer to experience such growth," team leader Yosef Refaeli, assistant professor of pediatrics, said in a prepared statement. "Our findings have pointed to the B-cell receptor and its signaling pathways as a very promising therapeutic target for B-cell lymphomas."

Non-Hodgkin lymphoma is a cancer of immune system cells known as T-cells and B-cells. Each year in the United States, about 66,000 new cases of non-Hodgkin lymphoma are diagnosed, and about 19,000 people will die of the disease.

For their research, Refaeli and colleagues created a new mouse model of lymphoma.

"Research into B-cell lymphomas has been hampered by the lack of a good mouse model. The mouse we created gives us a very good, predictive model of B-cell lymphomas, which can be used to explore not only these and related cancers, but also autoimmune disease and basic immunology," Refaeli said.

More information

The U.S. National Cancer Institute has more about Non-Hodgkin lymphomas.

-- Robert Preidt

SOURCE: National Jewish Medical and Research Center, news release, June 23, 2008

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