The microenvironment in mature B-cell malignancies: a target for new treatment strategies

  • Burger J
  • Ghia P
  • Rosenwald A
 et al. 
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Despite major therapeutic advances, most mature B-cell malignancies remain incurable. Compelling evidence suggests that crosstalk with accessory stromal cells in specialized tissue microenvironments, such as the bone marrow and secondary lymphoid organs, favors disease progression by promoting malignant B-cell growth and drug resistance. Therefore, disrupting the crosstalk between malignant B cells and their milieu is an attractive novel strategy for treating selected mature B-cell malignancies. Here we summarize the current knowledge about the cellular and molecular interactions between neoplastic B lymphocytes and accessory cells that shape a supportive microenvironment, and the potential therapeutic targets that are emerging, together with the new problems they raise. We discuss clinically relevant aspects and provide an outlook into future biologically oriented therapeutic strategies. We anticipate a paradigm shift in the treatment of selected B-cell malignancies, moving from targeting primarily the malignant cells toward combining cytotoxic drugs with agents that interfere with the microenvironment's proactive role. Such approaches hopefully will help eliminating residual disease, thereby improving our current therapeutic efforts.

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  • Jan a Burger

  • Paolo Ghia

  • Andreas Rosenwald

  • F. Caligaris-Cappio

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