New molecule opens door to lymphoma combination therapy

Researchers from the U.S., Canada and Spain have found a potential drug that could block a protein that drives development of activated B-cell diffuse large B-cell lymphoma (ABC-DLBCL), a particularly aggressive and drug-resistant form of non-Hodgkin lymphoma.

Non-Hodgkin lymphoma is the 7th most commonly diagnosed cancer in the U.S., with DLBCL its most common subtype. Treating ABC-DLBCL is tough and the researchers hope that their molecule, code-named MI-2, could be a step forward by binding to and deactivating MALT1, a protein that drives the growth of the lymphoma cells, but that has no vital role in normal cells. In mice, MI-2 stopped cancer growth without appearing to harm harming healthy tissues.

MI-2 could play a role in treating DLBCL and MALT1 lymphoma, as well as inflammatory and autoimmune diseases. The next step is to optimize the drug, and to see if it will work in combination with other drug therapies, potentially reducing the toxicity.

"MALT1 is a bona fide therapeutic target, and with the discovery of MI-2 we have provided a lead compound that forms the basis of a new class of therapeutic agents," says one of the study's authors, Ari Melnick of Weill Cornell Medical College.

- read the press release
- see the abstract