Singapore crew tests Dx for new intestinal lymphoma

Researchers in Singapore and colleagues across Asia made two major advances in lymphoma diagnostics that offer both bad and good news. On the one hand, they've spotted a new kind of intestinal lymphoma common in Asia that is quite deadly and was virtually unheard of more than 5 years ago. On the other, they've also developed a diagnostic test that can hopefully enable more effective treatment down the line.

Experts at the Singapore Lymphoma Study Group at Singapore General Hospital and the National Cancer Centre Singapore led the study, which is detailed online in the journal Leukemia. Their work involved 60 different cases in their region at centers in countries including South Korea, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Australia, China and Malaysia, according to the Singapore researchers who announced the finding. Further research is on tap, and is likely to involve colleagues in the U.S. and Canada with a focus on the new lymphoma variety and how to block its advance.

The team determined that this cancer variety is an iteration of enteropathy-associated T-cell lymphoma--something typically found in Caucasian patients. The thing is, this variety is typically connected to the autoimmune disorder celiac disease, but the version more common in Asian patients has no such connection. That makes a unique biomarker for this new lymphoma very crucial to have, and the researchers found that, too--megakaryocyte-associated tyrosine kinase, or MATK for short. And they've developed a blood test sensitive to MATK to enable accurate diagnosis of the disease.

The newly-identified Asian variety of enteropathy-associated T-cell lymphoma is quite aggressive and difficult to treat. Researchers involved with the project explain that patients eventually diagnosed with the brutal cancer face an average survival rate of about 7 months. But it is a major coup to have MATK as a biomarker, and the diagnostic test designed to screen for it should enable better, more accurate diagnosis. With that, doctors at least have a better shot at pursuing viable treatments that could boost long-term survival beyond the bare minimum.

"With an accurate diagnosis, we can treat our patients better and improve overall survival," senior author Lim Soon Thye of the National Cancer Centre Singapore and Duke-NUS said in a statement.

- read the release
- here's the journal abstract