Researchers Find New Role of Gene that Could Lead to New Strategies for the Treatment of B-Cell Lymphomas

The activation-induced cytidine deaminase (AID) gene has long been understood to play a role in the body’s defense against pathogens. The AID gene ensures that the B-cells responsible for antibody production can generate the antibodies that defend the body. Recently a team of research scientists at Weill Cornell Medical College published results outlining a new role for the AID gene. In these first of their kind findings researchers demonstrated the epigenetic role of the gene:

“…the researchers discovered that the enzyme encoded by the AID gene is also involved in removing chemical tags from DNA. These tags, known as methyl groups, regulate gene expression. Removing these methyl groups, a process called hypomethylation, allows B cells to rapidly change their genome in preparation for antibody production.”

“AID is a gene traditionally not known to be linked to DNA methylation, but we found that it is a player in removing methyl groups — the first time anyone has found molecules that perform this powerful form of gene regulation,” said co-senior author Dr. Olivier Elemento, an associate professor of computational genomics in the Department of Physiology and Biophysics who heads the Laboratory of Cancer Systems Biology in the Prince Alwaleed Bin Talal Bin Abdulaziz Alsaud Institute for Computational Biomedicine at Weill Cornell and co-chairs the Meyer Cancer Center Program in Genetics, Epigenetics and Systems Biology. “What is interesting is that many tumor types, and that includes B-cell lymphomas, tend to be linked to global — genome-wide — hypomethylation, compared to normal cells. How hypomethylation occurs is not well understood. AID is so far the only enzyme that has been directly linked to this active process. So AID or related enzymes could be involved in other cancers as well.”

These new findings have the potential to reveal a new cause of blood cancers and lead to the development of new strategies to treat B-cell lymphomas.

Peter Martin M.D. Selected as one of New York Super Doctors Rising Stars

Peter Martin, M.D.
Peter Martin, M.D.

Peter Martin, M.D. was recently named as one of 2015’s New York Super Doctors Rising Stars in the field of hematology. In addition to Dr. Martin, two other physicians from the Division of Hematology & Medical Oncology at Weill Cornell Medical College were named to the list – Dr. Himisha Beltran and Dr. Tomer Mark.

Super Doctors is an honor roll of top doctors selected by their peers and the independent research of MSP Communications. Physicians eligible for inclusion on the Rising Stars list must be fully-licensed physician who have been practicing for less than 10 years. No more than 2.5% of the eligible doctors in each state or region are named to the Rising Stars list. Full details of the Rising Star eligibility criteria can be found on their website.

New Developments in Lymphoma – Summer 2015 Newsletter

The Lymphoma Program has published the summer 2015 edition of the New Developments in Lymphoma Newsletter.

Please look to this space for further announcements of future newsletter issues, or add your name to our mailing list.