Blood levels of immune protein predict risk in Hodgkin disease

Blood levels of an immunity-related protein, galectin-1, in patients with newly diagnosed Hodgkin lymphoma reflected the extent of their cancer and correlated with other predictors of outcome, scientists reported at the American Society of Hematology annual meeting.

In a study of 315 patients from a German database, researchers from Dana-Farber Cancer Institute found that serum galectin-1 levels "are significantly associated with and additional adverse clinical characteristics in newly diagnosed Hodgkin lymphoma (HL) patients."

The measurements were made possible by a new called a "sandwich ELISA" devised by the Dana-Farber team, led by Margaret Shipp, MD, director of the lymphoma program at Dana-Farber. Galectin-1 is a protein which, when overexpressed by Hodgkin , allows them to evade the body's that normally would detect the cancer and attack it with cell-killing lymphocytes. The Shipp group developed antibodies that recognize the galectin-1 protein and were used in developing the sandwich ELISA assay.

Since the protein is secreted into the bloodstream, the investigators hypothesized that measuring relative levels of galectin-1 in newly diagnosed, untreated Hodgkin patients could help to assess likely outcomes in those patients. Such predictions, in turn, could help physicians decide how aggressively to treat the lymphoma, Shipp explained. With further development, she added, the assay could become "an objective test that might help make decisions on which way to treat patients."

The Dana-Farber scientists collaborated with researchers of the German Hodgkin Study Group (GHSG) at the University Hospital of Cologne. Shipp said that the GHSG has "probably the largest, most comprehensive data on clinical trials of patient with well-defined Hodgkin lymphoma." The 315 patients whose of galactin-1 were tested in the study had been enrolled in three different clinical trials – one for early-stage disease, a second for early-stage disease with additional less-favorable risk factors, and the third for patients with bulky localized or advanced-stage disease.

Using the sandwich ELISA assay, the Dana-Farber investigators found that blood galectin-1 levels in patients were significantly higher than in normal control patients. They also found that relative galectin-1 levels were correlated with the risk factors that had been used to assign the 315 patients to the three different clinical trials. Direct comparisons of the galectin-1 levels with patient outcomes are awaiting the completion of one of the , the researchers noted.

Beyond the potential for a clinical test, galectin-1 holds promise as a therapeutic target, said Shipp, whose group has made a "neutralizing" antibody to block the protein. She said the antibody, which is produced in mice, would need to be "humanized," or genetically modified to be compatible with human , and then undergo rigorous testing for safety and efficacy. This is under discussion with potential industrial partners, said Shipp.

Related Stories

Promising treatment target found in Hodgkin lymphoma

date Jul 31, 2007

Dana-Farber Cancer Institute scientists have identified a protein that prevents the body's immune system from recognizing and attacking Hodgkin lymphoma cells. Based on this finding, the researchers are now investigating ...

News from Cancer: Risk factors for deadly form of lymphoma

date Jul 07, 2008

A new study indicates that the incidence of mantle cell lymphoma, an aggressive type of non-Hodgkin's lymphoma, is on the rise, most frequently striking men, Caucasians and older individuals. The study, published in the August ...

Recommended for you

DNA blood test detects lung cancer mutations

date 12 hours ago

Cancer DNA circulating in the bloodstream of lung cancer patients can provide doctors with vital mutation information that can help optimise treatment when tumour tissue is not available, an international group of researchers ...

Tumors prefer the easy way out

date 15 hours ago

Tumor cells become lethal when they spread. Blocking this process can be a powerful way to stop cancer. Historically, scientists thought that tumor cells migrated by brute force, actively pushing through whatever ...

Brain tumors may be new targets of Ebola-like virus

date 15 hours ago

Brain tumors are notoriously difficult for most drugs to reach, but Yale researchers have found a promising but unlikely new ally against brain cancers—portions of a deadly virus similar to Ebola.

User comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.