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targeted treatment

Could one of these molecules break the back of a treatment-resistant kind of lymphoma?

It used to be that there were two kinds of lymphoma, a cancer of the white blood cells: Hodgkin’s lymphoma, and everything else (aka non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma). Now doctors recognize more than 20 different types of non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, based on cell type, genetic/genomic features, what the cells look like under a microscope, where the tumors form, etc.

With greater knowledge of what makes a lymphoma a lymphoma has also come the recognition that each type, subtype and sub-subtype responds to the same treatment differently—or not at all.

That’s led to a more targeted approach to discovering and developing anti-lymphoma drugs, based on the unique molecular features of a particular subtype. A team of researchers including Hao Wu, PhD, of the Program in Cellular and Molecular Medicine at Boston Children’s Hospital, is getting good traction focusing on one especially hard-to-treat lymphoma. Full story »

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We put lots of hurdles up to slow or stop cancer growth, but cancer cells often get over them. The more we know about the how they do it, though, the more we can do about it. (Phil Roeder/Wikimedia Commons)

Leukemia and other cancer cells are really good at hurdling over the obstacles we throw at them. It’s the whole basis of drug resistance: we attack a mutation with one drug, and another mutation arises to cancel out the drug’s effect. Or the cell ramps up other pathways to compensate for the one blocked by the drug.

But the more we learn about the backup systems cancer cells use to get around our treatment strategies, the better we can get at controlling or eliminating cancer cells. Alex Kentsis, MD, PhD, and Thomas Look, MD, of Dana-Farber/Children’s Hospital Cancer Center, came across one such backup while trying to find which genes a blood cancer called acute myeloid leukemia (AML) relies on to survive. In a nutshell: the cells talk to themselves—chemically, that is. Full story »

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