Dr. Ari Melnick and colleagues at the Weill Cornell Medical College reported the first selective shutdown of aggressive lymphomas master regulatory transcription factor in the Mar. 3, 2013, issue of the journal Nature Immunology.
The master regulatory transcription factor called Bcl6 (B-cell lymphoma 6 protein) is key to the survival of a majority of aggressive lymphomas and was previously considered too complex to be a target for drug therapy because the protein also controls many necessary cell functions.
The researchers have discovered that it is possible to shut down Bcl6 in the cancer known as diffuse large B-cell lymphoma (DLBCL) while not affecting its vital function in T cells and macrophages that are needed to support a healthy immune system.
DLBCL is the most common type of non-Hodgkin lymphoma - the seventh most frequently diagnosed cancer. Other research has revealed that Bcl6 plays a key role in the most aggressive forms of acute leukemia, as well as certain solid tumors.
The present development has led to the clinical testing of two experimental drugs that target the cancer inducing and cancer growth functions of Bcl6 only.
The experimental drugs attack only the cancer inducing functions of Bcl6 without interfering with the other functions that are necessary for normal cell life.