Burkitt Lymphoma Much Different Than Other B-Cell Lymphomas

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Scientists at the National Cancer Institute (NCI) have uncovered the first evidence that Burkitt lymphoma (BL, sometimes called Burkitt's Lymphoma), a highly aggressive B-cell non-Hodgkin's lymphoma, is "fundamentally distinct from other types of lymphoma."

Their research, which has been published online in the journal Nature, uncovered new mutated genes and altered pathways that might give way to therapeutic treatments.

Three clinical subtypes of BL have been recognized:

  • A sporadic subtype affects all ages but is most frequent in children
  • An EBV-associated endemic subtype
  • A human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) associated subtype

In the past, BL was closely linked to the most commonly diagnosed NHL, diffuse large b-cell lymphoma (DLBCL), but recent research has provided the evidence needed to determine distinct differences between the two.

In this study, the NCI researchers concluded that the MYC oncogene was "highly mutated" in BL, and they identified several new mutations in genes that had not before been linked to Burkitt—ones that were almost never found in cases of DLBCL.

In the other direction, they compared BL biopsies to DLBCL biopsies and found mutations in the latter tumors that weren't found in Burkitt.

“Our research suggests a number of targeted therapies that might be less toxic than the high-dose chemotherapy that is typically given to patients with Burkitt lymphoma in the US," said research head Dr. Louis Staudt, "even though they have cure rates approaching 90 percent."

Source: NCI

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