Novel therapy for therapy-resistant mantle cell lymphoma: Multipronged approach with targeting of hedgehog signaling

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Mantle cell lymphoma (MCL) is one of the most aggressive B-cell lymphomas with a median patient survival of only 5–7 years. The failure of existing therapies is mainly due to disease relapse when therapy-resistant tumor cells remain after chemotherapy. Therefore, development and testing of novel therapeutic strategies to target these therapy-resistant MCL are needed. Here, we developed anin vivomodel of therapy-resistant MCL by transplanting a patient-derived MCL cell line (Granta 519) into NOD/SCID mice followed by treatment with combination chemotherapy. Cytomorphologic, immunophenotypic,in vitroandin vivogrowth analyses of these therapy-resistant MCL cells confirm their MCL origin and resistance to chemotherapy. Moreover, quantitative real-time PCR revealed the upregulation of GLI transcription factors, which are mediators of the hedgehog signaling pathway, in these therapy-resistant MCL cells. Therefore, we developed an effective therapeutic strategy for resistant MCL by treating the NOD/SCID mice bearing Granta 519 MCL with CHOP chemotherapy to reduce tumor burden combined with GLI-antisense oligonucleotides or bortezomib, a proteosome inhibitor, to target therapy-resistant MCL cells that remained after chemotherapy. This regimen was followed by treatment with MCL-specific cytotoxic T lymphocytes to eliminate all detectable leftover minimal residual disease. Mice treated with this strategy showed a significantly increased survival and decreased tumor burden compared to the mice in all other groups. Such therapeutic strategies that combine chemotherapy with targeted therapy followed by tumor-specific immunotherapy are effective and have excellent potential for clinical application to provide long-term, disease-free survival in MCL patients.

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