DEC 06, 2017 09:33 AM PST

Mutations in the Immune System Increase Risk of Hodgkin Lymphoma

WRITTEN BY: Kara Marker

A first-of-its-kind study reveals genetic variants in the immune system that increase the risk of Hodgkin lymphoma, a type of cancer that commonly affects young adults. From the Institute of Cancer research, scientists pave the way for potential new treatments based on these genetic changes.

Histopathologic image of Hodgkin's lymphoma, lymph node biopsy. Credit: Wikimedia user KGH

Hodgkin lymphoma is a cancer defined by the abnormal growth and proliferation of lymphocytes, These are immune cells such as B cells and T cells, with the cancer usually beginning in B cells, which produce antibodies. First-line therapies successfully clear out cancer for most patients, but for those that need more, these new findings might be helpful. About 80 percent of people who develop Hodgkin lymphoma survive in the long-term, but sometimes treatment for this type of cancer results in long-term effects; new and better treatments could make survival rates even higher and lower the prevalence of long-term side effects.

In the new study, researchers completed an analysis of genetic data from 5,314 cases of Hodgkin lymphoma and 16,749 controls. They identified six genetic variations with just one letter change, meaning the A, G, T, and C nucleotides that make up DNA. Five of these changes impact the way B cells develop and increase the risk of lymphoma by 15 to 30 percent. Three have already been associated with autoimmune diseases like multiple sclerosis, rheumatoid arthritis, and lupus in the past.

"It doesn't mean that if you develop an autoimmune disease you are at increased risk of lymphoma, but it does offer fascinating genetic clues to these diseases,” explained Richard Houlston. “The new information could point towards new ways of diagnosing, treating, or even helping to prevent Hodgkin lymphoma."

The study’s results also indicated that different genetic variants are associated with risk of different types of Hodgkin lymphoma, such as nodular sclerosis Hodgkin lymphoma and mixed cellularity Hodgkin lymphoma.

"Understanding the genetic changes that underpin cancer's development is crucial for all aspects of our quest to defeat cancer,” explained Paul Workman. “To understand which patients are most at risk from different types of cancer, to improve diagnosis, and to develop treatments that are most likely to work for individual patients.”

The present study is published in the journal Nature Communications.

Sources: American Cancer Society, Institute of Cancer Research

About the Author
  • I am a scientific journalist and enthusiast, especially in the realm of biomedicine. I am passionate about conveying the truth in scientific phenomena and subsequently improving health and public awareness. Sometimes scientific research needs a translator to effectively communicate the scientific jargon present in significant findings. I plan to be that translating communicator, and I hope to decrease the spread of misrepresented scientific phenomena! Check out my science blog: ScienceKara.com.
You May Also Like
JUL 16, 2018
Immunology
JUL 16, 2018
T cells and the Need for Speed
A recent study has shown that T cell receptors are dispersed across the T cell surface, as opposed to clustered, to allow for a rapid immune reaction....
JUL 17, 2018
Immunology
JUL 17, 2018
Powering up the Elderly's Immune System
Use of drugs that inhibit the TORC1 pathway has bolstered the immune systems of the elderly, leading to a decrease in potentially deadly infections such as pneumonia and influenza....
JUL 19, 2018
Videos
JUL 19, 2018
Hazmat Spill at Johns Hopkins
Biohazards are a common problem in any kind of scientific research, and if a spill of dangerous materials occurs, it can be deadly. Luckily, a recent spill...
AUG 06, 2018
Immunology
AUG 06, 2018
Maternal Dengue Immunity Protects Against Infant Zika Infection
Maternal Dengue immunity produces CD8+ T cells that protect against fetal Zika infection preventing zika-related malformations....
SEP 04, 2018
Immunology
SEP 04, 2018
Development of Damaging Immune Cells in Tuberculosis Infection
Development of damaging white blood cells occurs during Tuberculosis infection leading to a maladaptive immune response....
NOV 16, 2018
Technology
NOV 16, 2018
Novel 'Cellphone' Technology Detects HIV
Human immunodeficiency virus 1 (HIV), weakens the immune system by attacking healthy cells. Currently, the management of HIV remains a major global health ...
Loading Comments...