Lymphoma Research

In the Pipeline and Under Study

We place a high priority on providing more treatment options for patients, to give them a better chance against the disease than just the current standard of care. All of our physicians in the Lymphoma Service are also research scientists who are actively engaged in laboratory research.

Investigational Approaches

Dr. Hernandez discusses the potential benefits that a clinical trial may bring to lymphoma patients.

Given our ability to identify very specific characteristics of particular subtypes of lymphoma, we are developing new drugs that can target or attack those elements of the cancer cell, confining treatment to just the tumor cell and limiting its effects on healthy tissue.

The field of personalized medicine aims to develop therapies that are designed to attack specific types of cancer based on specific characteristics of those cancers. This goal is at the center of research underway in Roswell Park’s Lymphoma Service. It begins in the laboratory, where researchers define an abnormality within a cell and strive to correct it. They also attempt to identify unique features of a lymphoma cell and develop targeted drugs to deliver more-focused, less-toxic treatments.

Targeted therapies, which attack a particular molecule on a cancer cell’s surface or an enzyme within the cell, have the potential to improve outcomes for some lymphoma patients without the severe side effects of chemotherapy. For this reason, every Roswell Park lymphoma patient undergoes a number of diagnostic tests to determine whether a targeted therapy is available for their particular subtype of the disease, sometimes as part of a clinical trial.

Roswell Park maintains one of the first Clinical Research Centers in the nation that focuses specifically on the development of new cancer treatments. The Center is where you will be treated if you choose to enroll in a clinical research study, which is the first step toward FDA approval of a new therapy. Our Clinical Research Center provides the highest level of patient safety and quickly generates precise data on potential new treatments. As a result, we can offer lymphoma patients access to treatments they would not have at most other centers.

Some of our current work in lymphoma involves:

  • The development of new drugs, such as drugs that block key enzymes in lymphoma cells.
  • Finding new ways to uses existing cancer drugs or therapies, including combinations of chemotherapies, targeted therapies, and radiation.
  • The discovery of new targets or pathways to attack the cancer.
  • Understanding the mechanisms involved in the growth and spread of lymphoma and ways to prevent them.
  • Identifying biomarkers to help us predict a patient’s response to a specific therapy.

We are investigating:

  • New monoclonal antibodies that zero in on specific characteristics of a cancer cell, latching onto the cell and delivering an agent designed to kill it. Because monoclonal antibodies attach primarily to cancer cells, healthy cells are protected, minimizing potential side effects.
  • Lymphoma cells use enzymatic pathways to thrive and multiply. We are identifying and examining the pathways that cancer cells use in order to grow, and this enables us to identify roadblocks that can stop their progress. When we block the action of these enzymes, lymphoma cells become limited in their ability to develop and spread. Drugs that work this way have significant anti-tumor effects and minimal toxicity (side effects). Our physician scientists are studying several key enzymes involved in lymphoma, to promote the development of new drugs that block their activity.
  • New drug types, including proteasome inhibitors. Proteasomes appear to help cancer cells survive, and inhibitors work to shut them down. (One proteasome inhibitor, bortezomib, is used widely for the treatment of mantle cell lymphoma).

Learn about clinical research studies available to patients with different types of lymphoma at Roswell Park, or call 1-877-ASK-RPCI (1-877-275-7724).

Hope for Patients with Recurrent Lymphoma

There are two main types of diffuse large B-cell lymphoma (DLBCL): activated B-cell-type and germinal-center B-cell-type. Patients with activated B-cell-type whose disease either is not responding to treatment or has relapsed (returned after remission) usually face a very poor prognosis. But a large international study led by Myron S. Czuczman, MD, Chief of Roswell Park’s Lymphoma/Myeloma Service, showed that Revlimid® (lenalidomide) can have a dramatic effect in a subset of patients with diffuse large B-cell lymphoma (DLBCL). That information has led to a large, international clinical research study (clinical trial) to determine whether lenalidomide could be an effective therapy for patients with activated B-cell-type or germinal-center B-cell-type DLBCL. This study, and other clinical research studies (clinical trials) at Roswell Park offer important treatment options for many lymphoma patients.