- Aggressive forms of B cell lymphomas like Burkitt lymphoma and diffuse large cell lymphoma, often do not respond to chemotherapy and kill its victims.
- An alternative therapy using microRNA miR-28 has been discovered that helps to inhibit the growth of these B cell lymphomas.
- MicroRNA miR-28 functions by regulating the differentiation and survival of B lymphocytes, blocking the growth of these cancers.
A possible therapeutic target for two very aggressive types of non-Hodgkin lymphomas, namely Burkitt lymphoma and diffuse large cell lymphoma, has been identified.
Scientists at the Centro Nacional de Investigaciones Cardiovasculares Carlos III (CNIC) discovered that the microRNA miR-28 works by regulating the terminal differentiation of B lymphocytes, blocking the growth of B cell lymphomas.
‘The presence of microRNA miR-28 reduces the proliferative capacity and survival of mature B lymphocytes, thus preventing the progress of B cell lymphomas.’
Most of the non-Hidgkin lymphomas arise from mature B lymphocytes. The expression of microRNA miR-28 is lost in most lymphomas and re-establishing its expression slows tumor growth.
This discovery establishes the therapeutic potential of synthetic miR-28 for inhibiting the growth of Burkitt lymphoma and diffuse large cell lymphoma and could lead to the development of the first miRNA therapy for the treatment of B cell lymphoma. This could provide the basis for human trials.
These miroRNAs (miRNAs) are small RNA molecules that regulate gene expression and has the ability to influence the biological and disease processes. The properties of miRNAs have attracted interest in their potential in the treatment of cancer.
Around 400 000 people are diagnosed with lymphoma annually, and more than 200 000 people die each year as a consequence of this type of blood cancer.
Around 60% of patients have very aggressive forms of the disease, such as Burkitt lymphoma or diffuse large cell lymphoma, and these patients often do not respond to chemotherapy or their disease relapses after treatment.
Because of this, research coordinator Dr. Almudena Ramiro stresses that "we need to find alternative therapies to replace or complement those that are already available."
The research team characterizes the role of miR-28 in regulating mature B lymphocytes and in the development of lymphomas associated with B lymphocyte cell type.
The study demonstrates that miR-28 regulates the terminal differentiation and survival of B lymphocytes.
The cell differentiation plays an important role in generating memory B lymphocytes and highly specific plasma cells.
According to Dr. Ramiro, "the presence of miR-28 reduces the proliferative capacity and survival of mature B lymphocytes."
The research team discovered that miR-28 is often lost in lymphomas, and that re-establishing its expression slows tumor growth.
The study emphasizes the importance of conducting clinical trials of miR-28-based therapies to treat B cell lymphomas.
The study is published in Blood
- Almudena R R. Ramiro et al. miR-28 regulates the germinal center reaction and blocks tumor growth in preclinical models of non-Hodgkin lymphoma. Blood; (2017) doi.org/10.1182/blood-2016-08-731166