SHERBROOKE, QC, March 13 /CNW Telbec/ - A professor at Université de
Sherbrooke and his collaborators have succeeded in understanding how the cell
responsible for Hodgkin's lymphoma-a cancer of the lymph system-functions. In
addition to answering a question that has baffled scientists for about a
hundred years, this discovery could lead to a new treatment for the disease
and save as number of lives.
Although the chances of surviving Hodgkin's lymphoma are generally good,
12% to 15% of patients, especially the young, do not respond well to
chemotherapy. "Successful treatment," explains Hans Knecht, professor in the
Department of Hematology at the Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences, "lies
with understanding what causes the disease and that's just what we are doing."
The Mysterious RS Cell
Researchers have known for some time that Reed-Sternberg cells cause
Hodgkin's lymphoma but, until now, much about this cell has remained a
mystery. "We can now demonstrate how it is formed and divides," stated Dr.
Knecht, who is also a hematologist/oncologist at the Centre hospitalier
universitaire de Sherbrooke.
His research demonstrates the important role played by telomeres
(chromosome terminal ends) in the development and death of Reed-Sternberg
cells. "The mechanism that stabilizes chromosome terminal ends is clearly
disrupted," explained Professor Knecht. "The cell continues to divide but, in
doing so, it loses its telomeres and eventually dies. Before dying, it causes
a great deal of surrounding damage."
Teams are already working on a treatment that could act on the telomeres,
which would help the minority of people that the disease claims. Therefore,
there could be new treatment approaches within the next five to ten years.
Discovery Acclaimed around the World
Professor Knecht's research has caught the attention of the global
scientific community. The German professor Karl Lennert, one of the greatest
hematopathologists of the last century, commented on Professor Knecht's
research. "This paper is a sensation, a real scoop," wrote Professor Lennert.
"At long last, we now know how the multinucleated Reed-Sternberg cell is
The work of Professor Knecht and his collaborators-professors Raymund
Wellinger, Bassem Sawan, and Sabine Mai-is reported on in the most recent
edition of Leukemia, a scientific journal.
Hodgkin's lymphoma is a cancer of the lymph system that affects about 850
Canadians each year. The survival rate of this disease, which can be
aggressive, is 85%. Despite everything, a minority of people with the disease
still die for reasons that are not yet understood.
For further information: Hans Knecht, Professor and
Hematologist/Oncologist, (819) 821-8000, extension 12709,
Hans.Knecht@USherbrooke.ca; Source: Johanne Leroux, Communications Office -
Health Section, (819) 821-8000, extension 72581,
Johanne.Leroux2@USherbrooke.ca; Visit our Web site at: