Researchers Identify Lipid Involved in Lymphomas Caused by Virus

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A new paper is reporting that certain lipids contribute to the survival of lymphomas caused by viruses; and further, that a molecule under investigation inhibits the creation of those lipids.

According to senior author Christopher Parsons, MD, Director of the HIV Malignancies Program at LSU Health Sciences Center New Orleans, specialized fat (lipid) molecules called sphingolipids have an important part to play in allowing aggressive lymphomas caused by viruses to survive.

Furthermore, the research team may have found a potential therapy to inhibit the activity of these sphingolipids.

People infected with the HIV virus often develop primary effusion lymphoma, or PEL (because Kaposi’s sarcoma-associated herpesvirus actually causes PEL). PEL is an aggressive version of the most commonly diagnosed lymphoma, diffuse large B-cell lymphoma. Therefore researchers used that model.

They began by analyzing the role of sphingosine kinase (SK), an enzyme associated with the creation of sphingolipids in PEL tumors. These keep the tumor cells alive, so researchers began throwing a targeted treatment at it, one that selectively targets SK.

The treatment molecule, known as ABC294640 (Apogee Biotechnology Corporation), has demonstrated antitumor effects in kidney, prostate, and breast cancer cell lines. In the current study the molecule inhibited SK and also induced PEL cell death. It managed to do this selectively in those cancer cells that were infected by virus. It did not harm those cells not virus-infected.

Wrote Parsons:

Our research thus far indicates that this molecule is safe, with the potential to stand alone as a single, orally administered drug with no need to combine it with other toxic drugs now routinely used but which fail to work for many patients.

The study appears in the January 2014 issue of Molecular Cancer Therapeutics, a journal of the American Association for Cancer Research.

Source: Molecular Cancer Therapeutics

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