NK / T Cell Lymphoma Research
Dr. Bartosz Grzywacz in our group is studying NK/T cell lymphomas caused by Epstein-Barr Virus (EBV) with a focus on lymphoma pathogenesis. EBV causes various cancers, most common of them are B cell lymphomas. The aggressive lymphomas of Natural Killer (NK) and T cells are relatively less frequent and include extranodal NK/T lymphoma, nasal type and aggressive NK/T cell leukemia / lymphoma. These lymphomas have a very poor prognosis and are nearly always positive for EBV. Certain individuals show increased susceptibility to these fatal diseases, but the reasons are unknown. At the present time little is known about the mode of infection of these cell types by EBV. We are studying the mechanism of NK cell infection by EBV to better understand the pathogenesis of these fatal diseases.
We are studying what NK cell subtypes are the targets for EBV infection and what factors determine their susceptibility. B lymphocytes are the main target of primary and latent EBV infection and the most common source of lymphomatous transformation. It is not known how EBV enters NK or T cells. An unexplained fact about EBV related NK/T cell lymphomas is that they are relatively more common in Asian countries and in central / South American countries, suggesting a genetic or geographic/environmental predisposition.
We are investigating the ability of EBV to infect and transform NK cells in vitro. We also examine tissue specimens and cell lines derived from EBV positive NK cell lymphomas to better characterize the virus and understand how EBV plays causative role in the malignant transformation of NK and T cells. Identification of the mechanisms will clarify the factors affecting susceptibility and may lead to prevention strategies such as vaccination of persons susceptible to these cancers.
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Impact of EBV
280,000 cases of mono in U.S college freshmen annually
200,000 new cases of EBV-associated cancers annually worldwide
2.3 million cases of multiple sclerosis worldwide