Nav: Home

New target for potential blood cancer treatment

December 21, 2015

Mutations present in a blood cancer known as follicular lymphoma have revealed new molecular targets for potential treatments, according to researchers at Queen Mary University of London (QMUL) together with collaborators at the Whitehead Institute for Biomedical Research and Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

Follicular lymphoma is a common type of blood cancer and one of the most common non-Hodgkin lymphomas, with more than 2,500 people diagnosed in the UK every year. Whilst the condition is normally responsive to existing therapies, the cancer often returns frequently and eventually develops resistance and, for some, their cancer becomes more aggressive and difficult to treat.

Dr Jessica Okosun from QMUL's Barts Cancer Institute said: "One of the mutations that we have identified allows follicular lymphoma tumours to turn on growth signals regardless of whether nutrients are available, thereby evading normal restrictions on its growth.

"Remarkably, the mutations we have discovered have not been seen in other cancer types. However, drugs that directly target this nutrient-sensing mechanism are currently used to treat other types of cancer, and may benefit patients with follicular lymphoma."

The research, published in Nature Genetics, identified mutations in several components of the body's nutrient sensing pathway, called mTOR, occurring in 30% of follicular lymphoma patients. This pathway is switched on when there is sufficient 'food' available for a cell to grow and survive. While more research is needed, the team have shown that mutations in one of the genes called RRAGC is central to keeping this growth signal on regardless of the nutrient conditions.

Inhibitors that directly target the MTOR pathway are currently used to treat other types of cancer. The researchers say these drugs may benefit patients with follicular lymphoma, particularly those who harbour mutations in that pathway, and may allow them to select subsets of patients that they believe may respond best to these therapies.

The original mTOR inhibitor called rapamycin was discovered in the 1960s in the soils of Easter Island, when it was found to be an effective anti-fungal agent. Newer mTOR inhibitors have more recently been shown to be able treat some forms of cancer, and could be a candidate for further testing against follicular lymphoma.
-end-
The study was funded by Cancer Research UK and the Kay Kendall Leukaemia Fund.

Notes to editors

Recurrent mTORC1-activating RRAGC mutations in follicular lymphoma
Jessica Okosun et al
Nature Genetics 2015
DOI: 10.1038/ng.3473

About Queen Mary University of London

Queen Mary University of London (QMUL) is one of the UK's leading universities, and one of the largest institutions in the University of London, with 20,260 students from more than 150 countries.

A member of the Russell Group, we work across the humanities and social sciences, medicine and dentistry, and science and engineering, with inspirational teaching directly informed by our research - in the most recent national assessment of the quality of research, we were placed ninth in the UK (REF 2014).

We also offer something no other university can: a stunning self-contained residential campus in London's East End. As well as our home at Mile End, we have campuses at Whitechapel, Charterhouse Square and West Smithfield dedicated to the study of medicine, and a base for legal studies at Lincoln's Inn Fields.

We have a rich history in London with roots in Europe's first public hospital, St Barts; England's first medical school, The London; one of the first colleges to provide higher education to women, Westfield College; and the Victorian philanthropic project, the People's Palace based at Mile End.

QMUL has an annual turnover of £350m, a research income worth £100m, and generates employment and output worth £700m to the UK economy each year.

Queen Mary University of London

Related Cancer Articles:

Radiotherapy for invasive breast cancer increases the risk of second primary lung cancer
East Asian female breast cancer patients receiving radiotherapy have a higher risk of developing second primary lung cancer.
Cancer genomics continued: Triple negative breast cancer and cancer immunotherapy
Continuing PLOS Medicine's special issue on cancer genomics, Christos Hatzis of Yale University, New Haven, Conn., USA and colleagues describe a new subtype of triple negative breast cancer that may be more amenable to treatment than other cases of this difficult-to-treat disease.
Metabolite that promotes cancer cell transformation and colorectal cancer spread identified
Osaka University researchers revealed that the metabolite D-2-hydroxyglurate (D-2HG) promotes epithelial-mesenchymal transition of colorectal cancer cells, leading them to develop features of lower adherence to neighboring cells, increased invasiveness, and greater likelihood of metastatic spread.
UH Cancer Center researcher finds new driver of an aggressive form of brain cancer
University of Hawai'i Cancer Center researchers have identified an essential driver of tumor cell invasion in glioblastoma, the most aggressive form of brain cancer that can occur at any age.
UH Cancer Center researchers develop algorithm to find precise cancer treatments
University of Hawai'i Cancer Center researchers developed a computational algorithm to analyze 'Big Data' obtained from tumor samples to better understand and treat cancer.
New analytical technology to quantify anti-cancer drugs inside cancer cells
University of Oklahoma researchers will apply a new analytical technology that could ultimately provide a powerful tool for improved treatment of cancer patients in Oklahoma and beyond.
Radiotherapy for lung cancer patients is linked to increased risk of non-cancer deaths
Researchers have found that treating patients who have early stage non-small cell lung cancer with a type of radiotherapy called stereotactic body radiation therapy is associated with a small but increased risk of death from causes other than cancer.
Cancer expert says public health and prevention measures are key to defeating cancer
Is investment in research to develop new treatments the best approach to controlling cancer?
UI Cancer Center, Governors State to address cancer disparities in south suburbs
The University of Illinois Cancer Center and Governors State University have received a joint four-year, $1.5 million grant from the National Cancer Institute to help both institutions conduct community-based research to reduce cancer-related health disparities in Chicago's south suburbs.
Leading cancer research organizations to host international cancer immunotherapy conference
The Cancer Research Institute, the Association for Cancer Immunotherapy, the European Academy of Tumor Immunology, and the American Association for Cancer Research will join forces to sponsor the first International Cancer Immunotherapy Conference at the Sheraton New York Times Square Hotel in New York, Sept.

Related Cancer Reading:

Best Science Podcasts 2019

We have hand picked the best science podcasts for 2019. Sit back and enjoy new science podcasts updated daily from your favorite science news services and scientists.
Now Playing: TED Radio Hour

Anthropomorphic
Do animals grieve? Do they have language or consciousness? For a long time, scientists resisted the urge to look for human qualities in animals. This hour, TED speakers explore how that is changing. Guests include biological anthropologist Barbara King, dolphin researcher Denise Herzing, primatologist Frans de Waal, and ecologist Carl Safina.
Now Playing: Science for the People

#SB2 2019 Science Birthday Minisode: Mary Golda Ross
Our second annual Science Birthday is here, and this year we celebrate the wonderful Mary Golda Ross, born 9 August 1908. She died in 2008 at age 99, but left a lasting mark on the science of rocketry and space exploration as an early woman in engineering, and one of the first Native Americans in engineering. Join Rachelle and Bethany for this very special birthday minisode celebrating Mary and her achievements. Thanks to our Patreons who make this show possible! Read more about Mary G. Ross: Interview with Mary Ross on Lash Publications International, by Laurel Sheppard Meet Mary Golda...