Molecular Profiling Can Accurately Diagnose Burkitt's Lymphoma
Researchers have identified genetic signatures for distinguishing between two types of lymphomas: Burkitt's and diffuse large-B-cell (DLBCL). This distinction is critical because patients with Burkitt's lymphoma require more intense chemotherapy than those with DLBCL. Burkitt's lymphoma is fatal if untreated, and accurate diagnosis will have a major effect on these patients' prognosis.
Burkitt's lymphoma and DLBCL cells look similar under the microscope, and diagnosis can be difficult using conventional pathological methods. A study in the June 8 New England Journal of Medicine describes how gene-expression microarray technology can improve diagnosis of Burkitt's lymphoma.
The study resulted from the collaboration between NCI investigators and the multinational team of researchers in the Lymphoma/Leukemia Molecular Profiling Project. A panel of expert hematopathologists began by reevaluating samples that had been previously diagnosed as Burkitt's lymphoma or atypical Burkitt's lymphoma using available pathological methods. They reclassified a number of samples (originally diagnosed as Burkitt's lymphoma) as DLBCL or high-grade lymphomas, thus demonstrating the difficulty in making an accurate diagnosis. Read more
Taking Pride in an Important Achievement
An important public health milestone was reached last week when FDA approved a vaccine that prevents infection by the two types of the human papillomavirus (HPV) responsible for up to 70 percent of cervical cancer cases worldwide, HPV 16 and HPV 18, as well as two other HPV types, HPV 6 and HPV 11, that cause benign genital warts.
Our nation's strong commitment and investment in cancer research at NCI led to this approval, something in which we all can take great pride. NCI investigators throughout the institute were involved in the discovery that HPV causes cervical cancer. Most prominent among NCI scientists working on this project were Drs. Douglas Lowy and John Schiller of the Center for Cancer Research (CCR). They also were instrumental in the discovery of the virus-like particle technology that led to the vaccine's development.
Called Gardasil and manufactured by Merck & Co., this vaccine will provide a significant boost to NCI's efforts to reduce the burden of disease by eliminating the need for invasive procedures to remove many precancerous lesions. But its impact will likely be greatest in developing countries where a lack of public health infrastructure and screening programs results in hundreds of thousands of lives lost each year to cervical cancer. Read more