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Columbia University researchers create mouse model that develops a human-like lymphoma

Researchers at Columbia University Medical Center have created the first mouse model that develops a lymphoma the same way that humans do. This advancement has the potential to significantly speed the development of new, improved therapies for diffuse large B cell lymphoma (DLBCL), the most common type of human B cell lymphoma. Human B cell lymphomas cause 85 percent of non-Hodgkin's lymphomas, the sixth leading cause of cancer deaths in the United States.

The findings also confirm that a mutation in BCL6, the gene most frequently altered in this type of lymphoma, is the first step in its development, though other subsequent mutations also occur. In the study, mice with a mutant form of this gene spontaneously developed this lymphoma.

Cancer researchers have long been hindered by the lack of animal models to recreate both the genetics and biology of DLBCL. They had no way to test, with reliable accuracy, how an investigational therapy would work in humans with this disease. Also, this lack of animal models has slowed understanding of the BCL6 gene and its precise role in tumor development.

Published in the May 2005 issue of Cancer Cell, the study was led by Riccardo Dalla-Favera, M.D., one of the world's leading cancer geneticists and lymphoma researchers. Dr. Dalla-Favera is director of the Herbert Irving Comprehensive Cancer Center (HICCC) at Columbia University Medical Center and NewYork-Presbyterian/Columbia. The HICCC is one of only three NIH-designated Comprehensive Cancer Centers in New York State. He is also director of the Institute for Cancer Genetics at Columbia University Medical center.

Dr. Dalla-Favera and his research team genetically engineered mice to produce a mutant BCL6 gene, showing the specific role of this gene in its pathogenesis and displaying most of the critical features of the corresponding human tumor. These findings expand on Dr. Dalla-Favera's identification of the BCL6 gene in 1994.

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Contact: Elizabeth Streich
eas2125@columbia.edu
212-305-6535
Columbia University Medical Center
16-May-2005


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