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Researchers Funded by The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society Studying Agent to Target Gene Linked to Many Forms of Lymphoma

Research to Be Published Online in the February 20, 2007th Issue of Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences

WHITE PLAINS, N.Y., Feb. 20 /PRNewswire/ -- More than 60,000 Americans are living with lymphoma, and researchers have identified one gene in particular, BCL6, as playing a dominant role in causing many forms of this blood cancer.

By determining which lymphomas are likely caused by this gene, a team of researchers from Albert Einstein College of Medicine in the Bronx, and Dana- Farber Cancer Institute in Boston, hope they will be able to identify which patients would be most responsive to a novel targeted treatment (BPI) which in lab tests has been found to inhibit BCL6 and kill lymphoma cells.

The researchers will report the results of their research, funded by The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society, in the February 20th online issue of the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Since not all forms of lymphoma are associated with BCL6, the researchers, led by Ari Melnick, M.D., of Albert Einstein, and Margaret Shipp, M.D., of Dana-Farber, used state-of-the-art genomics technology to identify which lymphomas have the BCL6-controlled gene "signature". The researchers found a set of 485 BCL6-controlled genes and confirmed that all lymphomas with BCL6 signatures are killed by BPI while lymphomas without the signature are resistant. This success in the laboratory will allow the selection of the lymphoma patients most likely to respond to this treatment for clinical trials of BPI-BCL6 targeted therapy. Such targeted therapy would offer patients the benefit of being potent and specific while at the same time lacking the side effects of chemotherapy drugs.

"The goal of the Society's research funding initiatives is to advance promising research with the potential to have the highest impact on blood cancers," said Deborah Banker, Ph.D., the Society's vice president for research communications. "The findings of Drs. Melnick and Shipp show great promise in leading to more effective targeted treatments for lymphoma patients."

Dr. Melnick said that the Society's support was fundamental in moving his team's research forward. "I am truly grateful to The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society for having confidence in our work and providing our group with this funding," he said. "I am optimistic that our efforts will improve the outcomes for that subset of lymphoma patients likely to benefit from BPI treatments."

About The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society

The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society(R), headquartered in White Plains, NY, with 66 chapters in the United States and Canada, is the world's largest voluntary health organization dedicated to funding blood cancer research and providing education and patient services. The Society's mission: Cure leukemia, lymphoma, Hodgkin's disease and myeloma, and improve the quality of life of patients and their families. Since its founding in 1949, the Society has invested more than $486 million in research specifically targeting leukemia, lymphoma and myeloma. Last year alone, the Society made 4.2 million contacts with patients, caregivers and healthcare professionals.

For more information about blood cancer, visit or call the Society's Information Resource Center (IRC), a call center staffed by master's level social workers, nurses and health educators who provide information, support and resources to patients and their families and caregivers. IRC information specialists are available at (800) 955-4572, Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. ET.

Contact: Andrea Greif


              914.772.3027 (cell)

CONTACT: Andrea Greif, +1-914-821-8958, +1-914-772-3027 (cell)

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Posted: February 2007