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Health Beat: Targeting lymphoma's command center

By Melanie Falcon, Anchor / Reporter, @Melanie_Falcon, MFalcon@wfmz.com
Published On: Apr 24 2013 10:25:40 AM CDT
Updated On: Apr 24 2013 04:47:36 PM CDT

Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma is the seventh most common form of cancer in the United States, and doctors may have found a new way to treat it.

Non-Hodgkin lymphoma is the seventh most common form of cancer in the United States, and doctors may have found a new way to treat it.

Some forms of the lymphoma respond well to treatment, but others are stubborn and aggressive. Now, a new discovery may change the way doctors treat the most difficult cases.

Researchers are using the concept that in order to kill the enemy, you must target the command center.

"Cancer cells are machines, and as we learn how they work, then we can learn how to block their functions," said Dr. Ari Melnick, professor of medicine at Weill Cornell Medical College.

Patients with aggressive forms of non-Hodgkin lymphoma have too much of a protein called malt-one. It tells cancer cells to grow and survive. 

"It's basically is the crutch they use to walk on," Melnick explained.

Doctors have discovered that a new compound, known as MI-2, inactivates malt-one and kills it. 

"It’s like hitting a command and control center, basically," said Melnick.

MI2 was tested in animals and human samples of lymphoma. The agent did not pose any toxicity, suggesting it could be a gentler alternative to standard chemotherapy.

The doctor said the next step is to put MI2 into pill form and test it that way. If successful, the drug therapy could possibly help other forms of lymphoma, as well as other inflammatory and autoimmune disorders.

DOWNLOAD and VIEW research summary

DOWNLOAD and VIEW the full-length interview with Dr. Ari Melnick about treating aggressive forms of non-Hodgkin lymphoma