Former LRF SAB Chair Edits, LRF Grantees Contribute to Special Publication on Lymphoma Research

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Last week, the Journal of Clinical Oncology, a publication of the American Society of Clinical Oncology, published a special review series edited by former Lymphoma Research Foundation (LRF) Scientific Advisory Board (SAB) Chair Richard I. Fisher, MD. Highlighting the latest discoveries and opportunities in lymphoma research, the online publication includes contributions from several LRF SAB members and grantees. “This edition acknowledges the incredible progress that has been made recently in increasing our understanding of the biology and genetics of lymphoma,” said Dr. Fisher. “The hope for safer and more targeted treatments is no longer a distant dream.”

Dr. Fisher, the Director of the James P. Wilmot Cancer Center at the University of Rochester Medical Center, wrote an overview of the series, summarizing the accomplishments of fellow researchers and noting how recent research successes in novel therapeutics could potentially lead to better treatment options for people with malignant lymphomas. Dr. Fisher’s article remarks on the possibility that new biologic and treatment advances will “dramatically change the prognosis of patients with malignant lymphoma in the next decade.”

With Daruka Mahadevan, MD, PhD of the University of Arizona, Dr. Fisher also contributed a review article on novel therapeutics for non-Hodgkin lymphoma (NHL). They state that the rapid advancement of monoclonal antibody therapies in B- and T-Cell lymphomas have not yet been equaled by developments of small-molecule inhibitors (SMIs). Not discounting the several successful immune system therapies already FDA-approved or in phase II/III clinical trials, Drs. Mahadevan and Fisher focus on the novel SMI therapeutic strategies they feel could make significant advancements in NHL research.

SAB Chair Bruce D. Cheson, MD reviewed the progress of positron emission tomography (PET) scans in malignant lymphoma management. Depending on the histology, or microscopic anatomy, of the lymphoma, PET scans have been helpful in aiding oncologists to predict final prognoses. Mostly praising the helpfulness of this scanning technology, Dr. Cheson aptly notes that the benefits of PET scans are not one-size-fits-all and vary depending on lymphoma stage, therapy and clinical setting.

SAB members Joseph M. Connors, MD and Randy D. Gascoyne, MD, also a grantee, with 2007 LRF Fellow Christian Steidl, MD authored an article on the importance of the microenvironment in Hodgkin lymphoma (HL). The group, out of the British Columbia Cancer Agency, discussed the effect the tumor microenvironment can have on prognosis in the disease. Based on recent clinical studies, they say that the tumor microenvironment “represents a promising clinical target.”

A team out of Stanford University Medical Center, including SAB member and grantee Ronald Levy, MD and 2007 Career Development Award recipient Joshua Brody, MD, focused an article on active and passive immunotherapy in lymphoma. They discussed many new treatments that have been replacing conventional chemotherapy, including monoclonal antibodies and vaccines. Reviewing several ongoing clinical trials discovering improvements for immunotherapies, they discuss different strategies for best utilizing the treatment options as part of this new and growing field.

With lymphoma treatments becoming more successful, the number of lymphoma survivors has grown immensely. Ann S. LaCasce, MD, a 2005 LRF Career Development Award recipient, contributed to an article proposing new guidelines for following and monitoring these survivors so as to determine risk of a relapse, a new malignancy or other health complications, especially cardiac disease. Dr. LaCasce and her co-authors from the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute recommend systematic follow-up plans for these patients and call for further research in this area.

While physicians and investigators from many different institutions contributed to this report, Dr. Cheson underlined the value of LRF-associated researchers in the field of lymphoma.

“This series of articles not only highlights the recent advances in our understanding of the biology of lymphomas, treatment, response assessment and patient survivorship that impact favorably on patient outcome, but the important role that LRF investigators have played in this progress,” he said.


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