Longer survival for lymphoma patients with HRG protein in the tumour


In a study from IGP the researchers show that the protein HRG could be used as a biomarker for some types of the cancer form lymphoma. The biomarker indicates longer survival and could be used to develop treatment strategies for different patients. The study has been published in the journal eJHaem.

Lymphomas are a type of blood cancer that originate from white blood cells. There are many different types of lymphomas with different prognoses and treatments. Much research today is focused on finding special characteristics, biomarkers, that can be used to tailor therapy and improve survival. In the present study the researchers focused on a group of lymphomas called B-cell lymphomas, and aimed to establish if the protein HRG (for Histidine-Rich Glycoprotein) could be used as a prognostic biomarker.

“HRG has been studied extensively in animal models and it has been shown to affect immune cells to gain anti-cancer properties. In addition, HRG improves the function of tumour blood vessels to make them more normal, resulting in slower tumour growth. These combined features suggested that HRG might be relevant for lymphoma patients,” says Tor Persson Skare, PhD student in Lena Claesson-Welsh’s group and first author of the study.

The researchers therefore examined if HRG was present in tumour cells from patients with different types of B-cell lymphomas and whether there was any relationship between HRG and patient survival.

“We discovered that more than one in three patients with the lymphoma type marginal zone lymphoma produced HRG in the tumours. These patients also had a significantly better survival. We also found that the gene DEFA1 was more strongly expressed in the cells containing HRG. This is interesting since the protein encoded by DEFA1 is known to help immune cells combat cancer,” says Tor Persson Skare.

The results from the study show that analysis of HRG could be a valuable tool in the development of new therapy strategies for the treatment of marginal zone lymphoma. Since the disease can vary substantially between different patients, this is particularly important to limit aggressive therapy to those that really need it.

“It would also be interesting to perform further studies focussing on the relationship between HRG and DEFA1, and to see if HRG can be exploited not only as a prognostic tool but also in therapy design,” says Tor Persson Skare.

More information:
Paper in eJHaem
Research in Lena Claesson-Welsh’s group