In a significant finding recently published in PLoS One, researchers at Weill Cornell Medical Center showed that ALK inhibitors (drugs that act on tumors with the protein ALK) could completely eradicate Diffuse Large B-Cell Lymphoma (DLBCL) with ALK mutation in laboratory animals. This is an important finding considering that patients with DLBCL with ALK mutations are resistant to common chemotherapy treatments.
Patients diagnosed with ALK positive DLBCL may, therefore, be candidates for therapeutic trials of ALK inhibitors. The incorporation of ALK status determination into the diagnosis of DLBCL could help identify these patients more readily. There are several ALK inhibitors under clinical testing for ALK positive tumors.
BCL6 is the most frequent oncogene (a gene that has the ability to cause cancer) in Diffuse Large B-Cell Lymphoma (DLBCL). However in a proportion of DLBCL other genes play a leading role in the oncogenic process. In an effort to personalize the treatment for patients with DLBCL, we found that a protein called ALK plays an oncogenic role in a subset of DLBCL.
We established and characterized the first ALK positive DLBCL line with a mutation that causes ALK to be expressed and active at very high levels, causing tumor cells to proliferate (reproduce rapidly). This cell line was obtained from the bone marrow tissue of a patient diagnosed with DLBCL. We developed pre-clinical animal models of DLBCL with ALK mutation, and we treated them with specific ALK inhibitors. As described above, the research showed that ALK inhibitors could completely eradicate DLBCL with ALK mutation in animals.
Click here to read the published research paper.