Blood levels of an immunity-related protein, galectin-1, in patients with newly diagnosed Hodgkin lymphoma reflected the extent of their cancer and correlated with other predictors of outcome, scientists reported at the American Society of Hematology annual meeting.
In a study of 315 patients from a German database, researchers from Dana-Farber Cancer Institute found that serum galectin-1 levels "are significantly associated with tumor burden and additional adverse clinical characteristics in newly diagnosed Hodgkin lymphoma (HL) patients."
The measurements were made possible by a new laboratory test called a "sandwich ELISA" devised by the Dana-Farber team, led by Margaret Shipp, MD, director of the lymphoma program at Dana-Farber. Galectin-1 is a protein which, when overexpressed by Hodgkin lymphoma cells, allows them to evade the body's immune response that normally would detect the cancer and attack it with cell-killing lymphocytes. The Shipp group developed antibodies that recognize the galectin-1 protein and were used in developing the sandwich ELISA assay.
Since the protein is secreted into the bloodstream, the investigators hypothesized that measuring relative levels of galectin-1 in newly diagnosed, untreated Hodgkin patients could help to assess likely outcomes in those patients. Such predictions, in turn, could help physicians decide how aggressively to treat the lymphoma, Shipp explained. With further development, she added, the assay could become "an objective test that might help make decisions on which way to treat patients."