NIH Expert: Malignant Lymphomas’ Pathobiology, Relationship With the Immune System Has Significantly Evolved

Elaine Jaffe, MD, National Institutes of Health (NIH) distinguished investigator at the National Cancer Institute at NIH, discusses how the understanding of malignant lymphomas’ pathobiology and relationship with the immune system evolved during her clinical and investigational research into the subject.

Pharmacy Times interviewed Elaine Jaffe, MD, National Institutes of Health (NIH) distinguished investigator at the National Cancer Institute at NIH, who is receiving the American Society for Investigative Pathology Gold-Headed Cane Award and is presenting an award lecture at the Experimental Biology 2022 conference on the classification of lymphoma in the modern era—a marriage of pathology and genomics.

During this interview, Jaffe discussed how the understanding of malignant lymphomas’ pathobiology and their relationship with the immune system evolved during her clinical and investigational research into the subject.

Elaine Jaffe: Well, I mean, I think as we've learned more about the complexity of the immune system, this knowledge has really been applied to the classification of lymphomas, leukemias, and histiocytic and dendritic cell neoplasms.

For example, the classification of T-cell lymphomas has been vastly expanded with the recognition of new functional T-cell subsets, such as Tfh cells, T follicular helper cells, T-reg cells and many other distinctive functional classes.

Additionally, the changes in the classification of histiocytic and dendritic cell neoplasms have significantly changed. Many of these disorders were originally recognized as just clinical syndromes and many were not even thought to be neoplastic—they were thought to be reactive. This includes things like Langerhans cell histiocytosis, Erdheim-Chester disease, and reside orphan disease.

Now, we've identified unifying genetic alterations that show that many of these conditions have mutations that involve a common pathway leading to better diagnosis and targeted therapies.