Study Summary

The primary goals of EMBLEM are to investigate:

  1. risk factors of BL in endemic populations in East Africa;
  2. EBV and Pf immuno-profiles and other biomarkers associated with BL;
  3. molecular characteristics of BL tumor genomes, B-cell receptor, and EBV variants; and
  4. germline risk factors of BL using genome-wide association studies (GWAS) and exome sequencing
  5. the association between BL and human leukocyte antigen (HLA) class I and II loci.

Burkitt lymphoma (BL) is a life-threatening malignancy of germinal center B cells first discovered in 1958 by Denis Burkitt an endemic childhood cancer (eBL) in sub-Saharan Africa, but it occurs sporadically (sBL) in most populations. Infections by Epstein-Barr virus (EBV) and Plasmodium falciparum (Pf) malaria are linked to the geographical distribution of eBL cases. However, both infections affect significantly more people than those who develop eBL suggesting the influence of other poorly defined risk-factors. The co-factors may include genetic variants of EBV or Pf, other infections, host genetic predisposition, trace elements or dietary factors, such as systemic magnesium or selenium, and environmental factors, such including euphorbia plants. Identification of co-factors would provide tools for the prevention and/or treatment of BL, lack of datasets with subject-associated specimens hampers in-depth integrative studies of BL.

Achievements at a glance