Non-Hodgkin's lymphoma: research from UNIPD and IOV-IRCCS offers a new therapy


Non-Hodgkin's lymphomas (NHL) are malignant tumors originating from B and T lymphocytes in the lymphatic tissue of the lymph nodes, spleen, thymus, and bone marrow. With over 40 different forms of NHL currently identified, each characterized by a clinical prognostic trend and therefore requiring specific therapeutic approaches. In Italy, these tumors are the fifth most common form of cancer in men and the sixth in women. Several studies have demonstrated in these forms a significant therapeutic advantage of the combination of conventional chemotherapy and monoclonal antibodies (mAbs) with a disease-free survival ten years after diagnosis in about 60-70% of cases. However, when aggressive lymphomas do not respond to standard therapy (refractory) or recur, the prognosis is poor.

A research group led by Professor Antonio Rosato of the Department of Surgical Oncological and Gastroenterological Science (DiSCOG of The University of Padua) and Roberta Sommaggio of the Veneto Institute of Oncology recently published a study in the Journal for ImmunoTherapy of Cancer. The study entitled, Innovative therapeutic strategy for B-cell malignancies that combines obinutuzumab and cytokine-induced killer cellsuses a combination therapy based on CIK cells and anti-CD20 monoclonal antibodies as a new strategy for treating B-cell lymphomas.

Porf Rosato explains: “This study arose from the need to find alternative immunotherapy approaches for treating adult patients with diffuse large cell B lymphoma who do not respond to CAR-T therapy. We observed that CIK cells could act against the tumor by having the antibodies act as a GPS, directing the killer cell to the target by recognizing tumor cells with absolute precision in a key-lock type mechanism. By performing in vivo studies in preclinical models of B lymphoma, we confirmed that treatment with re-targeted CIK cells with anti-CD20 antibodies exerts a greater control over tumor growth and increases survival. This study is in comparison to inoculating CIK cells alone or association with non-specific antibodies.”

Together, the published data indicate that the combined approachbetween cell therapy and monoclonal antibodies may constitute a new and promising strategy for treating B-cell lymphomas. This promising new strategy offers alternative uses of CAR-T and, at the same time, opens a possible implementation and application to other types of cancer.

Prof Rosato concludes by saying, “The next step will be that of the clinical trial that we expected to start by 2021.