Variations in Gene Activity Can Predict the Survival of Patients with Lymphoma
News Dec 01, 2008
Patterns of gene activity in a type of non-Hodgkin lymphoma has given researchers a better understanding of factors that contribute to the survival of patients treated for the disease. Gene activity, or expression, is a measure of the biological activity of a gene.
Determining the activity levels of all genes in lymphoma patients' genomes allowed researchers, led by Louis M. Staudt, M.D., Ph.D., at the National Cancer Institute (NCI), part of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), to identify sets of genes in diffuse large B-cell lymphoma (DLBCL) that influenced the effectiveness of treatment. These findings were published in the Nov. 27, 2008, issue of the New England Journal of Medicine.
The research team analyzed thousands of genes in DLBCL tumors. They found that the tumor microenvironment, which consists of the nearby noncancerous immune and structural cells that, along with tumor cells, constitute the tumor, has a major impact on a patient's response to treatment. "The ability of a patient with DLBCL to be cured by our current therapy can be predicted by looking at the pattern of gene activity in the tumor biopsy sample taken at diagnosis," said Staudt.
"In the near term, we need to incorporate gene expression profiling, which measures gene activity, in clinical trials for this disease to allow researchers to standardize results according to the variety of DLBCL tumors included in the trial. In the longer term, new therapies will emerge that are tailored to the particular gene expression profile of a patient's lymphoma."
"Our findings reveal new biological variations in DLBCL that influence whether a patient is likely to be cured by chemotherapy," said Staudt. "These biological variations are significant in patients treated with the current standard of care, R-CHOP. Our results provide many fresh ideas about how existing drugs might be utilized to overcome the remaining resistance of some DLBCL tumors to our current therapy."
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