Discovering what drives lymphoma

Lead researcher - Professor Michelle West, University of Sussex
Gene deregulation in lymphoma: uncovering mechanisms and pathways exploited by Epstein-Barr virus
Amount awarded: £244,961
Award start date: 01 Oct 2015
Recruitment start date: 14 Jul 2017
Award duration: 3 years

Epstein-Barr virus (EBV) infects white blood cells (B cells) and drives the development of many blood cancers in adults and children including Burkitt’s and Hodgkin’s lymphoma and lymphomas in patients with suppressed immune systems. The role played by the virus in the development of these cancers however is still unclear.

Proteins produced by EBV change which genes are switched on and off in B cells to increase cell growth and block cell death, promoting cancer development.  We have discovered new ways through which EBV proteins control key genes involved in lymphoma development. We are now in a unique position to rapidly progress this research and will use an integrated approach involving novel technologies to fully uncover the way in which some of the most important genes and pathways in lymphoma development are controlled by EBV and investigate ways in which this can be disrupted by newly-developed drugs. These studies will provide important information on how EBV drives lymphoma development, how gene control is disrupted in lymphomas that arise with no virus involvement and how drugs can be used to reverse these gene control changes.