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Researchers from the university hospital UZ Leuven in Flanders, together with KU Leuven, one of the region’s universities, have taken a major step forward in the search for an effective treatment for lymphoma. Next step: human trials. 

A better understanding

T-cell lymphoma is a rare type of lymph node cancer in which the white blood cells are impaired. This aggressive form of cancer is very difficult to treat with current medical knowledge. Yet, by examining the RNA of 55 patients, Leuven researchers discovered a new genetic error that could be the cause of this rare disease. 

We discovered one of the most frequent gene fusions ever in T-cell lymphoma, which indicates that this is an exceptionally strong driver of the disease.

Prof. Dr. Daan Dierickx
hematologist at UZ Leuven

Successful treatment in mice

It’s a hopeful discovery that could help advance the search for new and more effective treatment options. Currently, there’s already a suitable drug available that specifically acts on this target. Prof. Dr. Daan Dierickx: “By targeting the same genetic anomaly in lab animals, the drug successfully stopped the growth of the ill T-cells.”

A small step for human testing

The next step is to verify whether the results obtained in animal trials accurately reflect the outcome in humans. This will require additional research. According to Prof. Dr. Dierickx, having the data accessible from existing clinical trials for other hematological disorders is a major advantage. “It will make the step towards use in a clinical setting a lot smaller.”

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Reported by
press release UZ Leuven

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