Chemotherapy for diffuse large B-cell lymphomas can have side effects and is not always effective. By targeting proteins that drive and define the lymphoma, it may be possible to reduce our reliance on chemotherapy. Most B-cell lymphomas arise from a structure called the “germinal center” in lymph nodes. During the normal immune response, B-cells from germinal centers express high levels of proteins called BCL6 and EZH2. The combined and coordinated action of BCL6 and EZH2 can induce specific genetic changes that result in the development of malignant lymphomas. Our research, presented as 1 of 6 papers chosen from over 6,000 during the plenary session of the recent 2013 American Society of Hematology, suggests that combinations of BCL6 and EZH2 inhibitors are highly effective in destroying lymphomas and thus represent an exciting new, rationally designed treatment regimen. Fortunately, EZH2 inhibitors are already in phase I clinical trials, and specific and effective BCL6 inhibitors will be going into clinical trials.
In the Melnick Lab at Weill Cornell Medical College we are working with colleagues to develop new strategies to eradicate lymphoma and improve patient care. Please look to this space for further updates on lymphoma research in the Lymphoma Program at Weill Cornell.