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Gene expression profiles predict survival of lymphoma patients after chemotherpy

Patterns of genes that are active in tumor cells can predict whether patients with diffuse large B-cell lymphoma (DLBCL) are likely to be cured by chemotherapy, scientists reported today in the New England Journal of Medicine*.

Researchers analyzed thousands of genes in lymphoma biopsy samples from patients with DLBCL and determined that the activity of as few as 17 genes could be used to predict patients' response to treatment. "We're able to reliably predict the survival of these patients using data from a small number of genes, indicating that this technique should be entirely manageable for routine use," said National Cancer Institute (NCI) investigator Louis M. Staudt, M.D, Ph.D., the senior author on the study.

DLBCL is the most common type of non-Hodgkin's lymphoma in adults. Approximately 16,000 new cases are diagnosed in the United States each year, and standard chemotherapy for the disease is effective in only 40 percent of patients. Profiling gene expression in patients' tumors may help clinicians decide which patients are suitable candidates for standard therapy and which should consider other options for treatment.

The discovery of the predictive genes relied on DNA microarray technology, which allows researchers to determine which genes are active within cells. Microarrays, also known as gene chips, are glass slides that have been coated with thousands of spots of DNA, each representing a different gene. When a gene is active in a cell, it produces RNA copies known as transcripts. To measure the activity of genes, researchers use the RNA transcripts to make a fluorescent gene probe. When these gene probes are allowed to bind to their corresponding DNA spot on the chip, those spots on the chip light up. Scientists use the pattern and intensity of light emitted to determine the activity of each of the chip's thousands of genes.

For this study, researchers used the Lymphochip, a specialized microarray containing
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Contact: NCI Press Office
NCIPressOfficers@mail.nih.gov
301-496-6641
NIH/National Cancer Institute
19-Jun-2002


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