(04/09/13) - There is a new way to target the most severe forms of Lymphoma. Non-Hodgkin's Lymphoma is the seventh most common cancer. Some forms of it respond well to treatment, but others are stubborn and aggressive. A discovery may change the way doctors treat the most difficult cases.
Gamers know, to defeat the enemy - you must target the command center. Now, researchers are using that same concept to kill cancer.
"Cancer cells are machines, and as we learn how they work, then we can learn how to block their functions," says Dr. Ari Melnick, of Weill Cornell Medical College.
Patients with aggressive forms of Non-Hodgkin's Lymphoma have too much of a protein called MALT1. It tells cancer cells to grow and survive.
"It basically is the crutch they use to walk on," Melnick says.
But doctors have discovered that a new compound, known as MI2, inactivates MALT1 and kills it, Melnick adds, "it's like hitting a command and control center, basically."
MI2 was tested in animal and human samples of lymphoma. The agent did not pose any toxicity, suggesting it could be a gentler alternative to standard chemo.
Jane Sarnoff just finished the standard treatment for her Non-Hodgkin's Lymphoma. It included four chemo drugs combined with other agents.
"It's really nasty," which is why, Sarnoff says, she is excited to see alternatives on the horizon, "it really is, I mean, it's time for something like that."
Today, Jane is in remission. She hopes this new discovery will help others in the future.
The next step is to put MI2 into pill form and test it on people with aggressive forms of Non-Hodgkin's Lymphoma. If it is successful in those trials, the drug therapy could help other forms of lymphoma and be used against a variety of inflammatory and autoimmune disorders.
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