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World-first lymphoma research discovery!

March 2, 2011

Before we get into next month’s blogger, I’m pleased to inform you of an exciting discovery that was announced today at the BC Cancer Agency.

A study published in the prestigious international journal Nature outlines the discovery of a gene, CIITA, by researchers at the Agency’s Centre for Lymphoid Cancer (CLC). This discovery is a world-first because Agency researchers have found that this single gene is responsible for 40 per cent of patients with primary mediastinal B-cell lymphoma (a type of non-Hodgkin lymphoma) and 15 per cent of all Hodgkin lymphoma patients. This is also the first time that a commonly occurring gene fusion has been identified as a cause of this type of B-cell lymphoma.

The study clearly shows how cancer evades the body’s immune system through CIITA’s “one-two punch” to the immune system. When this gene starts fusing with other genes, the body’s killer white blood cells lose their ability to detect cancerous cells. In addition, the fusion causes an increased expression of a molecule that destroys these important white blood cells. This chain of events leads to the proliferation of cancer in this sizable percentage of patients.

Not only does this study mean a huge gain in knowledge about the mechanism of cancer, but it also means that targeted research can now be undertaken to start engineering drugs that will specifically target CIITA. The bottom line is that the research that is going on at the BC Cancer Agency is working. Improvements to care come from new evidence. And new evidence only comes from groundbreaking research. Thanks again to Dr. Brad Nelson for being February’s guest blogger. Keep reading to see who takes over the blog this month.