Normally, B lymphocytes (“B cells”) are a type of white blood cell that plays a role in immune function. In healthy individuals, B cells create antibodies to fight infections and promote overall health. However, in patients with follicular lymphoma, mutated and abnormal B cells turn malignant and accumulate throughout one’s system, causing the formation of this rare cancer. According to Medical XPress, researchers from the Metabolism and Cell Signalling Group at the Spanish National Cancer Research Centre (CNIO) recently identified a potential therapeutic target. As 16.67% of patients have RagC gene mutations, researchers believe that RagC inhibition could potentially delay this cancer’s progression. Check out the full study findings published in Cell Reports.
Within this study, researchers wanted to understand the correlation between RagC and follicular lymphoma. In the past, research has shown that RagC protein plays a role in metabolic activity and cellular growth and proliferation. Additionally, this same research team also showed how RagC mutations helped promote tumor growth. Thus, this new study sought to understand how lowered or inhibited RagC activity impacted follicular lymphoma development.
Because RagC does benefit the body, it cannot be permanently turned “off,” so researchers had to learn to properly address this gene. Rather than edit this gene to turn it off, researchers introduced a specific genetic mutation to mice models of follicular lymphoma to lower RagC activity. Ultimately, researchers found that slight RagC inhibition:
- Prevented follicular lymphoma progression
- Stopped B lymphocytes from over-activating
- Did not harm or reduce overall life expectancy
- Was relatively safe and well-tolerated, with no adverse side effects
In the future, more research is needed to understand whether RagC inhibitors would be beneficial for human patients. However, in the interim, these findings do show promise for the future of lymphoma treatment.
In many cases, follicular lymphoma, a form of non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma (NHL), is slow-growing. Thus, early identification is crucial to early treatment and better outcomes. Follicular lymphoma is considered to be a cancer of the lymphatic system, which contains your tonsils, spleen, lymph nodes, and thymus. While this cancer affects both males and females, it tends to affect females slightly more. This lymphoma is also more common in older individuals (aged 60+), and less likely in those of African or Asian descent. If symptoms appear, these include:
- Unintended weight loss
- Swollen (but usually painless) lymph nodes in the groin, underarms, abdomen, and neck
- Splenomegaly (abnormal spleen enlargement)
- Shortness of breath
- Night sweats
- Anemia (low red blood cell count)
- Thrombocytopenia (low platelet count)
- Neutropenia (low white blood cell count)
- Easy bruising and bleeding
Learn more about follicular lymphoma.