Understanding the causes of Burkitt lymphoma

The Challenge 

Burkitt lymphoma is the most common childhood cancer in Africa. The endemic form found in equatorial Africa mainly affects children ages 4 to 7 years and manifests itself as a very fast growing tumor, often with the appearance of large tumors in the jaw and sometimes the abdomen.

Studies have shown an association between Burkitt lymphoma and early infection with malaria and the Epstein-Barr Virus (EBV), the first virus to be associated with human cancer.

Researchers suspect that repeated infection with malaria makes children more susceptible to EBV.

For the National Cancer Institute (NCI), Westat carries out the Epidemiology of Burkitt Lymphoma in East-African Children and Minors (EMBLEM) study, examining environmental and genetic factors associated with this disease in children.

Our Solutions 

  • Westat supports the EMBLEM study by
    • Managing other tasks in Uganda for the African Field Epidemiology Network and Infectious Diseases Institute of Makerere University in Kampala and St. Mary’s Lacor Hospital in Gulu
    • Purchasing and shipping laboratory equipment, supplies, and vehicles to study sites in Uganda, Tanzania, and Kenya
    • Developing tools for tracking field activities and providing feedback to 6 East African study sites
    • Designing scientific protocols for evaluating field methods to diagnose malaria and negotiating with biotechnology vendors to supply study equipment, materials, and training
    • Providing overall study management guidance, participating in scientific teleconferences, and making presentations at in-country, capacity-building meetings

The Results 

  • Westat’s research support enables NCI to carry out the EMBLEM study more efficiently and effectively.
  • Study findings will help explain the interplay between malaria, EBV, and genetics and the onset of Burkitt lymphoma, with the goal of improving the surveillance, prevention, diagnosis, and care of children facing this disease.

Our Client 

National Cancer Institute (NCI)