Hodgkin’s Lymphoma is a lymphoid cancer characterized by the presence of malignant Hodgkin Reed-Sternberg cells that comprise a minority of the cells in the cancerous tumor. Additional cells (the microenvironment) represent the majority of cellular elements in the tumor and may be a host reaction to the lymphoma or could contribute to sustaining the cancer as a permissive environment recruited by the tumor. In this context, Hodgkin’s Lymphoma may be best considered not simply as a mass of rogue cancer cells in the body, but instead as a type of “malignant-ecosystem” comprised of a number of different cell types working together in concert. These cells communicate and influence each other through a network of small-molecule/metabolite and protein signals that ultimately serve to sustain the tumor and contribute to the pathology of the disease.

Dr. Rob Laister, a postdoctoral fellow at the Princess Margaret Cancer Center in Toronto and Dr. John Kuruvilla MD, a clinician at the same institution as well as an assistant professor at the University of Toronto Department of Medicine, propose that understanding how Hodgkin’s Lymphoma microenvironment networks are critical to the growth and survival of the tumor cells will provide important insights into the biology of Hodgkin’s Lymphoma. Identifying strategies that can influence these interactions will provide new opportunities for treatments currently in development or entirely novel therapies.

The Jesse and Julie Rasch Foundation has provided a grant to the Princess Margaret Cancer Foundation to allow Drs. Laister and Kuruvilla to determine whether certain natural, dietary compounds exhibit an anti-cancer effect in the context of Hodgkin’s Lymphoma, and whether those compounds may act in part by preventing the microenvironment from becoming a foundation for tumor growth.