01 May 2012

Lymphoma Therapy Targeting CD19 Protein May Reduce Risk of Lymphoma

Lymphoma is a type of cancer that starts in white blood cells called lymphocites. Lymphocites are the main part of the immune system. These circulate in blood vessels, lymph nodes and other network of vessels in the body.

Lymphocites enter the blood and tissues to respond to bacteria and viruses that attack the body.

When these lymphocites grow and develop uncontrollably into tumors, lymphoma develops. These tumors start to crowd out healthy tissue and organs .

Lymphoma therapy could deliver a double punch

B cell lymphomas are a group of cancers of that originate in lymphoid tissue from B cells, the specialized immune cell type that produces antibodies. The development of B cell lymphoma is associated with several known genetic changes, including increased expression of MYC, a transcription factor that promotes cell growth and division.

Video: Lymphoma: Types and Treatment

In this issue of the JCI, Andrei Thomas-Tikhonenko and his colleagues at the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia report on their studies to better understand the molecular pathways that interact with MYC and contribute to B cell lymphoma development. Using a mouse model of lymphoma, they found that a transcription factor in B cells known as PAX5 controls the level of MYC in cells. They showed that PAX5 stabilizes MYC protein levels through a previously undescribed pathway involving CD19, a surface protein expressed on B cells. When the research team looked in patient samples, they found that high levels of CD19 correlated with high MYC activity, and that both predicted poor patient survival time.

Their findings uncover a CD19-dependent pathway that contributes to the cancerous growth of B cell lymphomas. Their work has direct implications for therapies targeting CD19 that are currently in clinical trials, and suggest that these therapies may reduce cancer-promoting signaling in addition to depleting total B cell numbers.


Journal of Clinical Investigation
University of Pennsylvania
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