The New England Journal of Medicine (NEJM), the world's leading medical journal, has entrusted the lymphoma group of the Institute of Oncological Research (IOR, affiliated to USI and member of Bios+) and the Oncological Institute of Southern Switzerland (IOSI, Ente Ospedaliero Cantonale) with the task of compiling a state-of-the-art report on malignant lymphomas.
Published continuously for over 200 years, the New England Journal of Medicine reports only the highest quality research and established clinical content for physicians, scholars and scientists. It also regularly publishes thematic updates on the state of medical and scientific knowledge that immediately become the reference point for the entire medical community. The New England Journal of Medicine rarely entrusts an Institute with the preparation of these updates and even more rarely does it do so with European ones. On this occasion, however, it asked for an article on the state of the art in lymphomas (specifically those of the marginal zone) from the group that deals with malignant lymphomas at IOSI and IOR, coordinated by Prof. Emanuele Zucca, implicitly acknowledging their role as leaders in the field. This update, written by Francesco Bertoni, Davide Rossi and Emanuele Zucca of the IOR and IOSI and professors of the Faculty of Biomedical Sciences at USI, is published in the Thursday 10 February 2022 issue of the New England Journal of Medicine.
The lymphatic system is part of a network of biological processes that protects our organism from infections and various diseases. Malignant lymphomas are tumours that originate from the lymphatic system and comprise several types, each with different characteristics, aggressiveness, natural histories and prognoses. Among the most frequent lymphoma subtypes, marginal zone lymphomas include different types of extranodal lymphomas, i.e., those growing in anatomical locations other than lymph nodes. This type of lymphoma has been the subject of a great deal of research at IOSI and IOR, which, over the years has given a fundamental contribution to the development of what are now standard treatments for these diseases. This is why Bellinzona receives requests for second opinions from all over the world.
A new classification for lymphomas of the spleen
Also, this week, Blood, the world's number one journal in the field of haematology, published the results of a study on primary splenic lymphomas (i.e., those that grow in the spleen) conducted by the International Extranodal Lymphoma Study Group (an international research group based in Bellinzona, Switzerland, chaired by Prof. Franco Cavalli and scientifically directed by Prof. Emanuele Zucca). This study was performed in the laboratories of Prof. Davide Rossi, Group leader at the IOR, and led to the complete molecular characterisation of a large cohort of about 400 patients (from 28 European and American centres) with a documented diagnosis of splenic marginal zone lymphoma. Combining classical diagnostic tests such as immunohistochemistry and cytometry with modern genomic and molecular analyses, this study led to a new classification of the disease. Survival data show that this classification is capable of identifying disease subgroups with different overall survival. This study has also defined alterations responsible for the growth of these lymphomas, and these alterations could constitute molecular targets against which to design new therapeutic strategies, as is already happening in other types of lymphoma.