A team of scientists at the University of Geneva and the University Hospital of Geneva (HUG) have managed to slow down the progress of a cancer known as lymphoma.
Lymphoma, which affects white blood cells known as lymphocytes, typically spreads through the body into the lymph nodes and other parts of the body. The Geneva-based researchers appear to have found a way to use an antibody to neutralize a specific protein to block the migration of lymphoma cells from the blood stream, halting their spread to the rest of the body.
The inner wall of blood vessels acts as a barrier, preventing blood cells from leaving the circulation. Yet, some lymphocytes, once mutated and cancerous, have with a specific surface marker, the JAM-C protein. Like a free pass, the protein’s presence on the surface of lymphoma cells facilitates their migration through blood vessel walls.
The plan was to trap malignant cells in the blood said the researchers. The team found an antibody H225, that could attach itself to this specific protein, and reduce the movement of the cancerous cells to the lymphatic system by more than half when tested on mice.
H225 also limited cellular proliferation, even after the malignant cells arrived in the lymph nodes, spleen or bone marrow. Nearly all of the cancerous cells already in these organs disappeared in mice observed in the laboratory.
The first stone of a new field of treatment against lymphoma has been laid, according to the researchers. The results can be read in the Journal of Leukocyte Biology.
Every year, around 2,000 people in Switzerland are diagnosed with this potential agressive disease which resists standard treatments with chemotherapeutic drugs.
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