keywords: lymphoma, the study of polymorphisms
Our group uses genetic and genomic strategies to understand lymphoma and we are currently pursuing several different approaches. Our laboratory is part of the Institute of Pharmacogenomics and Individualized Therapy (IPIT), and one of our projects involves the study of polymorphisms that affect sensitivity to chemotherapeutic agents. One of these, in the FCGR3A gene, affects response to rituximab, a monoclonal antibody used to treat lymphoma patients. We are looking for ways to use this genetic information to tailor treatment strategies for lymphoma clinical trials. We are also using a genome-wide screening strategy to look for additional polymorphisms that affect response to other agents used to treat hematologic malignancies.
Another approach we are using to understand lymphoma biology and speed development of clinical treatments is to characterize a canine model of lymphoma using pet dogs that present for cancer treatment. As a spontaneously occurring, large-animal model of lymphoma, dogs are at least a complementary model organism to mice, while possibly providing a better model in some respects. We are currently using mRNA expression profiling to characterize canine lymphomas and plan to integrate this information with other cytogenetic, array cCGH, and micro-RNA profiles being generated. After similarities between humans and dogs are identified, we plan to exploit these similarities to develop and test new treatments in dogs as an expedited method of introducing novel human treatments, to the eventual benefit of both humans and pet dogs.
Finally, my lab also studies epigenetic changes in lymphoma and how these might relate to disease biology with an eventual goal of improving treatment strategies by using epigenetic modifiers.
The common theme of all of these strategies is to decipher the causes of lymphoma development and progression, and then to translate these findings into clinical trials for the improved and individualized treatment of lymphoma in the clinic.