How to Turn Cancer Off

B cell lymphoma deactivated by myc CD19 interactions

(RxWiki News) If certain changes can cause a cell to become cancerous, reversing those changes should return the cell to normal. It may be simple, but it's not easy.

It takes a lot of malfunctions for cancer to develop, but with so many cells in the human body, it happens more often than we would like. Usually, the cellular protections against cancer formation work.

"Ask your oncologist about antibody therapy."

Researchers from the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia made progress in targeting the interaction between a protein called CD19 on the outside of the cell, and another protein called myc that's involved in the rapid growth of B Cell Lymphoma.

Overall, researchers have found that the higher the level of myc, the more aggressive the cancer.

The central problem in many cancers involved in the bloodstream like leukemias and lymphomas is that the differences between a tumor cell and a normal cell are slight.

Cancer treatment is difficult because the target is still very much a human cell and shares so many characteristics with healthy cells.

Extensive testing and analysis found a new molecular pathway that could be used to deactivate both proteins - sort of a molecular switch to permanently shut down the cancerous cells.

Since normal B cells don't use this molecular pathway at all, researchers described it as the perfect target.

Current treatments for B cell lymphoma have a strong friendly fire effect, wiping out all B cells present. More development of this research should allow more specific treatments to be used, keeping healthy cells alive.

Laboratory experiments described in the study involved molecular testing of cancers in both animal and human cell lines.

"Our research suggests ways to devise more specific therapies to selectively kill tumor cells in a subset of lymphomas," said study leader Andrei Thomas-Tikhonenko, PhD, an oncology researcher at the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia.

"Without CD19, there is no Myc," he added, "so controlling that on-off switch could represent a powerful tool against lymphoma."

Research was published May 1, 2012 in The Journal of Clinical Investigation.

The National Institutes of Health, the V Foundation and the W.W. Smith Charitable Trust supported this study.

Review Date: 
May 9, 2012