Cell reprogramming to cure leukaemia and lymphoma

April 3, 2013

Researchers from the Centre for Genomic Regulation (CRG) in Barcelona reprogramme lymphoma and leukaemia cells to halt their malignancy. Resulting cells remain benign even when no longer subjected to treatment and reduce likelihood of developing new tumours.

Results are published in this week's edition of the prestigious scientific journal Cell Reports.

Leukaemia and lymphoma are two types of cancer affecting . Both illnesses are widely studied and are currently treated mainly with chemotherapy, radiotherapy and antibodies in order to destroy the . Unfortunately, there are still a considerable number of patients that do not respond to existing therapies. For this reason, the published this week in Cell Reports journal could be very important for the future.

"Our experiments demonstrate that cancer cells in humans can be transdifferentiated (transformed) into similar normal cells. This discovery tests a new which allows , like leukaemia and lymphoma, to be treated", explains Thomas Graf, principal investigator on the project, group leader at the Centre for Genomic Regulation (CRG) and ICREA research professor.

Thomas Graf and his team had already shown that, thanks to the C/EBPα transcription factor, it is possible to reprogramme one type of blood cell to become another. Specifically, his work focused on changing lymphocytes into macrophages. Now this lab has been investigating the possibility of transforming cancerous blood cells into macrophages. The results have been very positive. The researchers have not only transdifferentiated , but the reprogrammed cells also maintain their new state as macrophages over time and definitively. In addition, the scientists have been able to prove that the tumour generating capacity of immunosuppressed mice reduces drastically, which makes these new findings a very effective new treatment. In converting malignant cells into macrophages –a type of cell that does not divide- the work presented by Graf and his collaborators offers the possibility of a new type of treatment to combat blood cancer in the future. Even though the treatments used currently allow cancerous cells to be eliminated, they still do not reduce the capacity to generate new tumours.

"We must continue looking for ways to use what we have just discovered to benefit patients. Most importantly, we now know that human cancer cells can be successfully reprogrammed and also that the reprogramming decreases the possibility of the cancer reproducing. Now we are trying to find chemical compounds (or pharmaceuticals) with the same treatment capacity, not only in culture but also in patients", insists Thomas Graf.

Explore further: Scientists seek out cancer cells hiding from treatment

More information: Rapino, F. et al. C/EBPαinduces highly efficient macrophage transdifferentiation of selected B-lymphoma / leukemia cell lines and impairs their tumorigenicity, Cell Reports. March 28, 2013

Related Stories

Scientists seek out cancer cells hiding from treatment

January 15, 2013
Scientists hope to improve leukaemia treatment by investigating how cancer cells use 'hiding places' in the body to avoid chemotherapy drugs.

Cell transformation a la carte

October 3, 2011
Researchers from the Haematopoietic Differentiation and Stem Cell Biology group at the Centre for Genomic Regulation (CRG), have described one of the mechanisms by which a cell (from the skin, for example) can be converted ...

Scientists harness immune system to prevent lymphoma relapse

October 18, 2012
UK scientists hope that lymphoma patients could benefit from a new drug that triggers the cancer-fighting properties of the body's own immune system, after highly promising early laboratory results.

Researchers’ blood cancer breakthrough

August 10, 2011
Researchers at the University of Southampton have discovered clues to why many patients do not respond to a standard drug for the blood cancer lymphoma, raising hopes that more effective treatments can be designed.

Cloned receptor paves way for new breast and prostate cancer treatment

September 13, 2012
Researchers at Uppsala University have cloned a T-cell receptor that binds to an antigen associated with prostate cancer and breast cancer. T cells that have been genetically equipped with this T-cell receptor have the ability ...

Recommended for you

Immune-cell numbers predict response to combination immunotherapy in melanoma

July 20, 2017
Whether a melanoma patient will better respond to a single immunotherapy drug or two in combination depends on the abundance of certain white blood cells within their tumors, according to a new study conducted by UC San Francisco ...

Discovery could lead to better results for patients undergoing radiation

July 19, 2017
More than half of cancer patients undergo radiotherapy, in which high doses of radiation are aimed at diseased tissue to kill cancer cells. But due to a phenomenon known as radiation-induced bystander effect (RIBE), in which ...

Definitive genomic study reveals alterations driving most medulloblastoma brain tumors

July 19, 2017
The most comprehensive analysis yet of medulloblastoma has identified genomic changes responsible for more than 75 percent of the brain tumors, including two new suspected cancer genes that were found exclusively in the least ...

Novel CRISPR-Cas9 screening enables discovery of new targets to aid cancer immunotherapy

July 19, 2017
A novel screening method developed by a team at Dana-Farber/Boston Children's Cancer and Blood Disorders Center—using CRISPR-Cas9 genome editing technology to test the function of thousands of tumor genes in mice—has ...

Combining CAR T cells with existing immunotherapies may overcome resistance in glioblastomas

July 19, 2017
Genetically modified "hunter" T cells successfully migrated to and penetrated a deadly type of brain tumor known as glioblastoma (GBM) in a clinical trial of the new therapy, but the cells triggered an immunosuppressive tumor ...

How CD44s gives brain cancer a survival advantage

July 19, 2017
Understanding the mechanisms that give cancer cells the ability to survive and grow opens the possibility of developing improved treatments to control or cure the disease. In the case of glioblastoma multiforme, the deadliest ...

0 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.