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Finding a treatment for a rare type of lymphoma

Enteropathy-associated T-cell lymphoma (EATL) is a very rare type of T-cell lymphoma. It usually occurs in the small intestine, and is associated with celiac disease. It occurs in a small number of patients who do not respond to a gluten-free diet, the standard treatment for celiac disease, and who therefore suffer from chronic inflammation in their intestines. Patients having a massive increase in faulty, premalignant, white blood cells in their small intestine are at high risk for developing EATL. EATL is a fast-growing (aggressive) lymphoma and the future for these patients is not very good with an average five year survival of only 10-20%. New and better treatments are therefore urgently needed.

Together with his colleagues, Dr Jeroen van Bergen has discovered a small group of cells in the intestines that he believes could be key to the initiation of EATL. He is therefore using his grant to study how these begin to grow and divide rapidly, whilst avoiding death. Finally the team will look for chemicals or biological inhibitors that could stop these rogue cells from dividing and cause them to die. He hopes that his findings could provide important information to aid the treatment of EATL in the future.