New Treatments Needed for a Deadly Cancer

New Treatments Needed for a Deadly Cancer

Adult T-cell leukemia/lymphoma (ATLL) affects people infected by the human T-lymphotropic virus type 1 (HTLV-1) and occurs mainly in regions where the virus is endemic. This rare and highly lethal cancer has a three-year survival rate of only 25% despite aggressive chemotherapy—highlighting the need to better understand how it develops and find better therapies.

Mainly because of the Bronx’s immigrant makeup, Montefiore Medical Center treats more ATLL patients than most U.S. medical centers and is therefore uniquely positioned to study this disease. The National Cancer Institute has now awarded B. Hilda Ye, Ph.D., a five-year, $2.5 million grant to study the underlying causes of ATLL. She and her colleagues recently found that, compared with Japanese ATLL patients, North American patients have a four times higher rate of mutations in EP300, a protein that regulates gene expression through the process of epigenetics. Dr. Ye will follow up on her hypothesis that mutated EP300 proteins, combined with expression of another protein (the transcription factor BCL6), cause distinctive abnormalities in gene expression and DNA replication affecting the T cells of North American patients with ATLL. Dr. Ye and her team also hope to develop a new treatment approach targeting the DNA replication program of ATLL cells in these patients.

Dr. Ye is an associate professor of cell biology at Einstein. (1R01CA266847)

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