Dissecting the potential for GSK3 inhibition to improve lymphoma treatment

The different types of non-Hodgkin lymphomas (NHL) account for more than 13,000 new cancer diagnoses and 4900 deaths in the UK annually. Finding new ways to help prevent and treat this type of cancer would save many lives.

We have been researching a naturally occurring chemical (protein) called Glycogen synthase kinase (GSK)-3 in healthy cells and recognise the importance of this chemical being switched ‘on’ and ‘off’ at the right time for cells to be able to grow and survive normally. In some types of NHL, GSK-3 levels have been found to be unusually high; indeed, it is possible to use drugs that ‘turn off’ GSK-3 to kill NHL cells grown in the lab. It is, however, unclear whether the higher GSK-3 level is a key change that causes NHL, or the consequence of a normal cell changing to NHL. 

We therefore plan to research GSK-3 along with its related proteins, to develop a more precise understanding of the significance of higher GSK-3 levels in various NHL sub-types. We anticipate that this ‘broader’ approach to studying GSK-3 will identify changes in proteins that are critically important to the development and survival of NHL cells, and provide information for developing markers of early disease/prognosis and drugs that improve the effectiveness of current treatments.