UF researchers receive grant to study therapeutic approaches for EBV-positive lymphomas

Sumita Bhaduri-McIntosh, M.D., Ph.D., and Michael McIntosh, Ph.D.

Two University of Florida pediatric infectious disease researchers have received a $3.5 million grant from the National Cancer Institute to study how the Epstein-Barr virus contributes to a type of non-Hodgkin lymphoma. 

Sumita Bhaduri-McIntosh, M.D., Ph.D., associate professor and chief of pediatric infectious diseases in the department of pediatrics, and Michael McIntosh, Ph.D., associate professor in the department of pediatrics and Child Health Research Institute, are principal investigators on the five-year grant. 

Diffuse large B-cell lymphoma is the most common type of non-Hodgkin lymphoma and remains a leading cause of cancer-related death in people with HIV. Up to 90% of such cancers in people with HIV are positive for the Epstein-Barr virus, making a better understanding of how the virus contributes to cancer key to developing therapeutic approaches.  

With the new project, the researchers will focus on how the virus rewires cellular DNA repair. Understanding these cellular pathways will help the team target cancer cells with a precise approach called synthetic lethal therapy. This therapy targets cancer cells while preserving healthy cells. 

“We are seeking to discover new mechanisms and markers of synthetic lethal therapies, with the ultimate goal of personalizing such therapies for patients with diffuse large B cell lymphomas,” said Bhaduri-McIntosh.

Both researchers are members of the Cancer Center’s Mechanisms of Oncogenesis research program.