MU Researchers discover way to target lymphoma cancer cell

Results of the research will be presented at the City of Hope National Medical Center in June.
Cait Campbell / Graphic Designer

An MU research team has found a way to target tumorous lymphoma cells throughout the body, potentially finding a way to benefit patients affected by the cancer, which is the most common blood cancer in the country.

For more than a decade, MU researchers have been fighting against the deadly disease, which the National Cancer Institute predicts will kill more than 20,000 people this year. But in May, the team developed nanoparticles made up of radioactive atoms that can target lymphoma cells and deliver radioactivity directly to them without affecting surrounding healthy cells.

Tests of the nanoparticles were run on dogs due to the similarity of lymphoma appearance and treatment in their bodies and in those of humans.

Associate professor Michael Lewis, a member of the research team, said the research could potentially provide insight into the treatment of human patients.

“To my knowledge, no one has (previously researched tumors) in mice and dogs in this way,” he said.

The research team worked to evaluate the makeup of tumors on a molecular level and target the disease through specialized targeting agents. Radiopharmaceuticals based on this approach can target cancer genes, Lewis said.

In previous research efforts, nuclear imaging of these targeting agents in mice and dogs with lymphoma were used to examine the correlation between cancer genes and response to chemotherapy. Lewis said researchers found targeting agents attached to radioactive atoms were able to more efficiently detect tumors. This study by MU researchers took those findings a step further.

Lewis has been invited to present the results of the research at the City of Hope National Medical Center in June.

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