New tool to find and fight most dangerous types of lymphoma

December 3, 2018, University of Leeds
Hodgkin lymphoma, nodular lymphocyte predominant (high-power view) Credit: Gabriel Caponetti, MD./Wikipedia/CC BY-SA 3.0

UK scientists have found a new way to identify people with the most aggressive types of lymphoma who are less likely to respond to standard drugs.

Lymphomas are a form of cancer affecting , and although these tumours looked the same as others under the microscope, the new test, called profiling showed that one in 10 in a trial were half as likely to be cured with existing treatments.

Diffuse large B-cell lymphoma affects almost 5,000 people in the UK every year, and is the most common forms of the disease.

Many people respond positively to existing treatment, the researchers say. However by analysing the DNA and RNA of tumour cells from almost 1,000 patients with diffuse large B-cell lymphoma who took part in a clinical trial, they discovered a group for whom standard lymphoma treatment was much less effective. They say the new test finds twice as many of these patients as previous methods.

The new study was led by scientists from the Universities of Leeds, Cambridge and Southampton and pooled expertise in pathology, oncology and bioinformatics to study the issue from multiple perspectives.

The researchers identified the 'molecular high grade' group using complex computer models to analyse usage of every one of the 20,000 genes which make up the complete gene structure of human cells, in data collected from 1,000 patients.

People with the 'molecular high grade' type of lymphoma have a three-year survival rate after standard treatment of only about 37%, compared to 72% for all other cases.

Professor David Westhead, from the Faculty of Biological Sciences at the University of Leeds, is one of the senior authors of the resulting , published in the Journal of Clinical Oncology today. The work was funded by the blood cancer research charity Bloodwise.

Professor Westhead said: "We have discovered which patients will be left at greater risk by only receiving standard treatment, and at nearly 10% of patients sufferers, it is a significant group."

Professor Ming-Qing Du, from the Division of Cellular and Molecular Pathology at the University of Cambridge, another senior author of the paper, said: "By identifying the molecular high grade group we have found that the number of people who have a high chance of their lymphoma responding poorly to existing treatment is double what we expected.

This should be a spur for pathologists to urgently re-assess the way we make the diagnosis, so that appropriate therapy can be tailored to the individual."

The third senior author, Peter Johnson, Professor of Medical Oncology at the University of Southampton, said: "At the moment the standard treatment for this type of lymphoma is to use the R-CHOP combination of drugs. For patients with molecular high grade lymphoma this may not be the best approach, and we need to make sure we identify them early on, so that we can consider different forms of . At the moment we can use more intensive chemotherapy, but by understanding the biology better we hope we can test more selective treatments with targeted agents."

Dr. Alasdair Rankin, Director of Research at Bloodwise, said: "This important research is tackling the challenge of accurately identifying lymphoma patients who will and won't respond well to standard drugs. The next step will be to develop this approach for use in the NHS, so that more lives can be saved."

The research was undertaken as part of the Bloodwise-funded Precision Medicine in Aggressive Lymphoma programme, a collaboration between researchers at a number of UK universities that is identifying more effective drugs for people who do not respond to current treatments.

Explore further: Experimental drug trial seeks to improve treatment for lymphoma

More information: Journal of Clinical Oncology (2018). DOI: 10.1200/JCO.18.01314

Related Stories

Experimental drug trial seeks to improve treatment for lymphoma

August 11, 2017
Patients with a common type of fast-growing cancer are being given fresh hope in a new clinical trial.

Engineered cell therapy rejected for aggressive adult lymphoma on NHS in England

September 19, 2018
A cancer immunotherapy has been provisionally rejected as a treatment for some adults with an aggressive type of non-Hodgkin lymphoma on the NHS in England.

Possible genetic explanation for why some lymphoma patients don't respond to treatment

October 30, 2015
An important regulator that controls the ability of tumour cells to hide from the immune system in lymphoma patients, making them unlikely to respond to standard treatment, has been discovered by scientists at the University ...

Breakthrough in reversing treatment resistance in blood cancer patients

July 14, 2017
Researchers from the University of Southampton have identified why some people may become resistant to monoclonal antibodies, a common type of immunotherapy used in lymphoma treatment.

New drugs are improving survival times for patients with aggressive type of blood cancer, study finds

June 25, 2018
Survival times for a highly aggressive type of blood cancer have nearly doubled over the last decade due to the introduction of new targeted drugs, a Yorkshire study has shown.

Study revises molecular classification for most common type of lymphoma

April 11, 2018
In a new study, researchers identified genetic subtypes of diffuse large B-cell lymphoma (DLBCL) that could help explain why some patients with the disease respond to treatment and others don't. The study, led by researchers ...

Recommended for you

Treatment shown to improve the odds against bone marrow cancer

December 15, 2018
Hope has emerged for patients with a serious type of bone marrow cancer as new research into a therapeutic drug has revealed improved outcomes and survival rates.

Immunotherapy combo not approved for advanced kidney cancer patients on the NHS

December 14, 2018
People with a certain type of advanced kidney cancer will not be able to have a combination of two immunotherapy drugs on the NHS in England.

New drug seeks receptors in sarcoma cells, attacks tumors in animal trials

December 13, 2018
A new compound that targets a receptor within sarcoma cancer cells shrank tumors and hampered their ability to spread in mice and pigs, a study from researchers at the University of Illinois reports.

Surgery unnecessary for many prostate cancer patients

December 13, 2018
Otherwise healthy men with advanced prostate cancer may benefit greatly from surgery, but many with this diagnosis have no need for it. These conclusions were reached by researchers after following a large group of Scandinavian ...

Combining three treatment strategies may significantly improve melanoma treatment

December 12, 2018
A study by a team led by a Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) investigator finds evidence that combining three advanced treatment strategies for malignant melanoma—molecular targeted therapy, immune checkpoint blockade ...

Researchers use computer model to predict prostate cancer progression

December 12, 2018
An international team of cancer researchers from Denmark and Germany have used cancer patient data to develop a computer model that can predict the progression of prostate cancer. The model is currently being implemented ...

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.