Researchers ID drug that blocks some blood cancers

May 17, 2017 by Heather Lindsey
blood
Credit: Wikimedia Commons

A compound identified by Weill Cornell Medicine scientists inhibits the growth of a rare blood cancer found in people with HIV-AIDS. Their research, published May 15 in the Journal of Clinical Investigation, also demonstrates that the compound deters multiple myeloma, another type of blood malignancy.

Few effective treatments are available for (PEL), a subtype of non-Hodgkin lymphoma (NHL) that is characterized by aggressive growth of in the body cavities. It accounts for 4 percent of the people diagnosed with NHL.

"There are very few cases of primary effusion lymphoma diagnosed each year, but it has a bad prognosis," said senior study author Dr. Ethel Cesarman, professor of pathology and laboratory medicine at Weill Cornell Medicine. While patients with PEL need new treatments, the newly identified compound may one day be another approach to treating , a more common condition, she said.

Cesarman and her colleagues used a discovery process called high throughput assay screening that uses robotic automation and computer software to analyze the biochemical activity of a large number of compounds.

With this process, they identified a small molecule called 6-ethylthioinosine (6-ETI) that could potentially inhibit PEL. 6-ETI is a class of drug called a nucleoside analog; other types of nucleoside analogs are commonly used to treat leukemia and other blood cancers.

The researchers used 6-ETI to treat PEL derived from patients, as well as those from other forms of non-Hodgkin lymphoma, and examined them using laboratory methods that measure whether cells are alive. They found that 6-ETI caused PEL cells to die. They also found that 6-ETI treatment cured mice with PEL. However, the drug did not affect the other non-Hodgkin lymphoma subtypes.

To find out why some subtypes were unresponsive to the drug, the researchers looked for genetic differences in resistant to 6-ETI. They discovered that cancer cells that produced high levels of an enzyme called adenosine kinase responded to 6-ETI, while cancers with lower levels of the enzyme did not respond to the small molecule. Theoretically, doctors could one day test whether patients with any type of cancer have high levels of adenosine kinase to see if they might be candidates for drug treatment with 6-ETI.

Because PEL cells closely resemble plasma cells – that make antibodies and are produced in bone marrow – researchers theorized that multiple myeloma, which is also a malignancy of the , might produce high levels of adenosine kinase. Their subsequent studies of multiple myeloma cells in the laboratory found this theory to be true. When they treated the cells with 6-ETI, they responded to the drug.

To further investigate the therapeutic potential of 6-ETI, researchers tested the compound in cells from the tumor tissue of Weill Cornell Medicine patients with multiple myeloma and found that the cancer cells died. This drug also showed treatment responses mice with multiple myeloma.

Explore further: Researchers identify therapy that shrinks tumors in patients with multiple myeloma

More information: Utthara Nayar et al. Identification of a nucleoside analog active against adenosine kinase–expressing plasma cell malignancies, Journal of Clinical Investigation (2017). DOI: 10.1172/JCI83936

Related Stories

Researchers identify therapy that shrinks tumors in patients with multiple myeloma

March 8, 2017
Mayo Clinic researchers have found that an experimental drug, LCL161, stimulates the immune system, leading to tumor shrinkage in patients affected by multiple myeloma. The findings are published in Nature Medicine.

New treatments to extend life for multiple myeloma patients

February 10, 2017
Multiple myeloma is a cancer of the plasma cells that reside inside bone marrow. Plasma cells produce certain proteins that build up the immune system. In abnormal quantities, these proteins damage the body and compromise ...

Personalized drug screening on horizon for multiple ​myeloma patients​​​​

November 20, 2015
A personalized method for testing the effectiveness of drugs that treat multiple myeloma may predict quickly and more accurately the best treatments for individual patients with the bone marrow cancer. The process, developed ...

Study shows that choice of medical center impacts life expectancy of multiple myeloma patients

October 26, 2016
People diagnosed with multiple myeloma are more likely to live longer if they are treated at a medical center that sees many patients with this blood cancer. Mayo Clinic researchers published these findings today in the Journal ...

Researchers discover underlying cause of myeloma

February 11, 2016
Yale Cancer Center researchers have identified what causes a third of all myelomas, a type of cancer affecting plasma cells. The findings, published Feb. 10 in the New England Journal of Medicine, could fundamentally change ...

Researchers find new pathway underlying multiple myeloma relapse

December 8, 2015
One of the biggest questions about the treatment of multiple myeloma, a form of blood cancer, is why nearly all patients treated with current therapies eventually suffer relapse. A Yale Cancer Center study may have solved ...

Recommended for you

CAR-T immunotherapy may help blood cancer patients who don't respond to standard treatments

October 20, 2017
Siteman Cancer Center at Barnes-Jewish Hospital and Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis is one of the first centers nationwide to offer a new immunotherapy that targets certain blood cancers. Newly approved ...

Researchers pinpoint causes for spike in breast cancer genetic testing

October 20, 2017
A sharp rise in the number of women seeking BRCA genetic testing to evaluate their risk of developing breast cancer was driven by multiple factors, including celebrity endorsement, according to researchers at the University ...

Study shows how nerves drive prostate cancer

October 19, 2017
In a study in today's issue of Science, researchers at Albert Einstein College of Medicine, part of Montefiore Medicine, report that certain nerves sustain prostate cancer growth by triggering a switch that causes tumor vessels ...

Gene circuit switches on inside cancer cells, triggers immune attack

October 19, 2017
Researchers at MIT have developed a synthetic gene circuit that triggers the body's immune system to attack cancers when it detects signs of the disease.

One to 10 mutations are needed to drive cancer, scientists find

October 19, 2017
For the first time, scientists have provided unbiased estimates of the number of mutations needed for cancers to develop, in a study of more than 7,500 tumours across 29 cancer types. Researchers from the Wellcome Trust Sanger ...

New study reveals breast cancer cells recycle their own ammonia waste as fuel

October 19, 2017
Breast cancer cells recycle ammonia, a waste byproduct of cell metabolism, and use it as a source of nitrogen to fuel tumor growth, report scientists from Harvard Medical School in the journal Science.

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.