Researcher Looks for Link Between Protein and Hodgkin Lymphoma
Study could lead to advanced treatment for cancer common in teenagers



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Maxwell Krem, MD, PhD, from The University of Washington strives to treat his patients as he would want to be treated, delivering state-of-the-art medical therapy. This desire led him to research the molecular genetics and pathogenesis of Hodgkin lymphoma, a cancer of the lymphoid system, which when it functions normally creates white blood cells whose job is to fight infection and disease.

Approximately 900 children under age 19 are diagnosed with Hodgkin lymphoma each year, the majority of whom are teenagers ages 15 – 19. Dr. Krem hopes that his research will lead to targeted therapies and a better understanding of Hodgkin lymphoma.

Researchers believe that Hodgkin lymphoma is caused by a mutated cell called Reed-Sternberg (RS). This cell, for reasons not yet understood, recruits healthy cells to cluster around it, creating a tumor. Unlike other types of cancer, only about 1% of cells in the Hodgkin lymphoma tumor are actually cancerous.

 
  • Maxwell Krem, MD, PhD
  • Acting Instructor, Division of Medical Oncology
  • University of Washington

A normal cell has one nucleus with 46 chromosomes inside of it. Unlike normal cells, RS cells have two or more nuclei. When two nuclei are present, there are often gained or lost chromosomes. In 2009, a family in which several people had Hodgkin lymphoma was studied, and a chromosomal translocation was found, meaning that pieces of a specific chromosome were broken off and placed on a different chromosome. When this happens, the cells reproduced abnormally, leaving out a specific protein (KLHDC8B) necessary for normal cell reproduction. Imagine trying to a read and understand that book if the chapters were printed out of order. What happens in the story would not make sense.

Dr. Krem is studying how the lack of protein KLHDC8B helps create abnormal cellular growth that leads to Hodgkin lymphoma. To conduct his research, Dr. Krem will study mice that are bred without this protein which develop Hodgkin lymphoma to determine how the RS cell creates a tumor and if the RS cells are able to reprogram the non-cancer cells around it to become cancerous.

Dr. Krem is funded for his research for two years by CureSearch for Children's Cancer and will begin his work in 2013. During the course of his research, CureSearch looks forward to sharing Dr. Krem's progress.

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