Finding new treatments for high-grade lymphomas

Lead researcher - Dr Daniel Hodson, University of Cambridge

Determining the role of RNA binding proteins in aggressive B cell lymphomas
Amount awarded: £259,887
Award start date: 01 Dec 2015
Recruitment start date: 14 Jul 2017
Award duration: 3 years

Burkitt Lymphoma is an extremely aggressive form of non-Hodgkin Lymphoma.  In the developed world it is potentially curable in children and younger adults.   However, this requires high intensity chemotherapy, which cannot be tolerated by older patients and is not possible in third world countries such as Africa, where childhood Burkitt Lymphoma is especially common.   These patients are currently treated palliatively. New therapy, targeted to the molecular basis of the disease, is needed. A recent study has revealed that more than one third of Burkitt Lymphoma patients have mutation of a gene called DDX3X.  In normal cells genetic information is stored as DNA, which is copied into short-lived instructions called messenger RNA.   How efficiently these instructions are read (a process termed translation) is often corrupted in cancerous cells.  Intriguingly one of the main functions of DDX3X is the regulation of translation.  Thus it is likely that the mutations in DDX3X found in Burkitt Lymphoma disrupt the way a cell translates its messenger RNA instructions.  This study will determine which sets of instructions are controlled by DDX3X, how its mutation could corrupt this process and whether drugs that specifically target DDX3X might be beneficial for the treatment of Burkitt Lymphoma.