With a median survival rate of just five to seven years, Mantle Cell Lymphoma (MCL) is considered the most aggressive blood cancer, and despite the progress in genetic-based cancer treatments, researchers have yet to develop an effective method for treating this rare form of lymphoma.
However, a novel method developed in Israel successfully locates and blocks the reproduction of a cancer-related protein in white blood cells, suggesting that a cure for MCL, as well as other blood cancers, may be within reach. The study was led by Tel Aviv University’s Prof. Dan Peer.
“MCL has a genetic hallmark,” Peer said in a statement. “In 85 percent of cases, the characteristic that defines this aggressive lymphoma is the heightened activity of the gene CCND1.” When over-expressed, the CCND1 gene produces too much of a protein called Cyclin D1, sometimes 3,000 – 15,000 times too many.
To reduce and regulate protein production, Peer has been investigating an approach called siRNA, or small interfering RNA. A synthetic strand of RNA molecules, siRNA is basically a gene silencer, designed to specifically target a particular messenger RNA (RNA molecules that convey genetic information from the DNA to the ribosomes, where protein is produced) and disable its ability to express a specific gene.