EZH2 Represents a New Target for Treatment of B-cell Lymphomas

wendybeguelinBy Wendy Béguelin, PhD

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. 

Two Newly Opened Clinical Trials Evaluate Idelalisib in Indolent non-Hodgkin Lymphoma

The Weill Cornell Lymphoma Program has recently opened two clinical trials evaluating the experimental drug idelalisib in previously treated indolent non-Hodgkin lymphomas (iNHL). The sponsor of the trials is Gilead Sciences.  The principal investigator at Weill Cornell is Dr. Peter Martin. For more information about the studies please call Amelyn Rodriguez, RN at (212) 746-1362 or e-mail Amelyn at amr2017@med.cornell.edu.

Idelalisib (GS-1101, previously CAL-101) works by blocking some of the cell functions that cause iNHL to grow and survive.

Gilead 0124: Idelalisib in Combination With Rituximab 

This study evaluates the effectiveness of idelalisib combined with rituximab in treating iNHL. Rituximab is FDA-approved for treating iNHL. It is possible that giving rituximab together with idelalisib may have more activity against iNHL than giving rituximab alone.

Key Eligibility

  • Men and women age 18 and older
  • B-cell indolent non-Hodgkin lymphoma (iNHL)
  • Have received prior therapy containing anti-CD20 antibody
  • iNHL is not refractory to rituximab

Click here for a detailed summary of this trial.

Gilead 0125: Idelalisib in Combination With Bendamustine and Rituximab

Update: this study is closed to enrollment. 

This study evaluates the effectiveness of idelalisib combined with bendamustine and rituximab. Rituximab and bendamustine are FDA-approved for treating iNHL. It is possible that giving rituximab and bendamustine together with idelalisib is more effective in treating iNHL than giving rituximab and bendamustine alone.

Key Eligibility

  • Men and women age 18 and older
  • B-cell indolent non-Hodgkin lymphoma
  • Have received prior therapy containing anti-CD20 antibody and chemotherapy
  • iNHL is not refractory to bendamustine

Click here for a detailed summary of this trial.

Weill Cornell’s Dr. John Leonard One of “Top 8 Leaders” in Westchester Magazine

John Leonard, MD, the Director of the Weill Cornell Lymphoma Program, is featured in Westchester Magazine’s “Top 8 Leaders in Westchester County in 2013.”

Dr. Leonard is the Richard T. Silver Distinguished Professor of Hematology and Medical Oncology and Associate Dean for Clinical Research, Weill Cornell Medical College.

Click the image below to read the article.

Westchester Magazine