AsianScientist (Apr. 1, 2013) – Researchers in Singapore have identified a new type of deadly intestinal lymphoma that is particularly common in Asia. The team also developed a new diagnostic test to accurately identify these patients.
The study, carried out by the Singapore Lymphoma Study Group at Singapore General Hospital (SGH) and the National Cancer Center Singapore (NCCS), has an immediate impact on patient care, with doctors now able to diagnose patients accurately and tailor more effective treatment strategies to improve outcomes.
This is the largest study of this lymphoma type, involving 60 cases from centers in Singapore and around Asia, including South Korea, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Australia, China, and Malaysia. The findings were published recently in the journal Leukemia.
The disease, almost unheard of before 2008, had been classified as an alternative type of enteropathy-associated T-cell lymphoma (EATL Type I), a disease common in Caucasians and associated with celiac disease.
“We discovered that the intestinal lymphoma commonly seen in Asian patients has no links to celiac disease or EATL Type I found in Caucasians,” said Associate Professor Tan Soo Yong, Senior Consultant, Department of Pathology at SGH, and first author of the study.
Instead, the research team discovered that the pathology of the disease was very different and most likely originated from a unique epithelial cell type found in the intestine, making it a completely different disease type.
The researchers propose to re-classify the disease, currently labelled EATL Type II, as ‘Epitheliotropic Intestinal T-cell Lymphoma,’ which would impact the World Health Organization’s (WHO) classification.
In addition, the team has identified a novel biomarker, known as megakaryocyte-associated tyrosine kinase (MATK), and developed a diagnostic test that enables clinicians to diagnose patients suffering from this type of lymphoma.
“Our research has an immediate impact on the care we can provide to patients with this rare but very aggressive intestinal lymphoma,” said Associate Prof Lim Soon Thye, Deputy Head and Senior Consultant, Department of Medical Oncology, NCCS, and Associate Professor at Duke-NUS. The average overall survival observed by the researchers was only seven months.
The researchers plan to collaborate with experts in the United States and Canada to investigate the cell of origin and explore immunological approaches to block its growth.
Source: SingHealth; Photo: dee_gee/Flickr/CC.
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