Key New Lymphoma Research Findings

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According to a new study conducted by the scientists at BC Cancer Agency (BCCA) and several at the Simon Fraser University, two-thirds of newly identified mutated genes are in some way linked to lymphoma.

Published in the journal Nature, the report indicates that two newly discovered lymphoma-related genes enable cancer cells to grow rapidly despite the body’s regulatory systems. In order to come to their conclusions, 50 BCCA scientists discovered 109 genes with recurring mutations while they were in the process of sequencing the whole genomes of over 100 diffuse large B-cell lymphoma tumors. They then identified 26 of the repeatedly mutated genes as contributors to the disease.

The study notes that the mutations inactivate MLL2 -- which usually works as a tumor stopping gene -- and thereby allows for the cancer cells to develop more quickly.

“The mutated genes discovered should enable the design of new tests to recognize subtypes of lymphoma,” explains Angela Brooks-Wilson, one of the BCCA scientists on this study. Also an associate professor of biomedical physiology and kinesiology at SFU, Brooks-Wilson adds: “The findings may help us predict how individual lymphoma tumours will react to different treatments.”

“This wealth of new genetic clues will help us create new drugs and identify existing ones that can inhibit these mutant genes,” says Steven Jones, a professor of molecular biology and biochemistry (MBB) at SFU. “The pattern of mutations discovered may become ideal targets for existing therapies.”

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