Scientists lead fight against blood cancers

The Leukaemia Research Fund has awarded £140,000 to three teams working within the Nuffield Department of Clinical Laboratory Sciences to find and improve treatments for leukaemia and related blood cancers.

£50,000 has been awarded to researchers at the LRF Molecular Haematology Unit to study myelodysplasia (MDS). This is a life-threatening condition in which the process of blood cell formation is disturbed by a failure of the immature cells to grow and develop normally. People with this condition may become anaemic, prone to infections and bleed easily. A third of MDS patients go on to develop acute myeloid leukaemia – a particularly aggressive and difficult to treat blood cancer. The team – led by Dr Jackie Boultwood and Professor Jim Wainscoat – are using a cutting edge technique called DNA microarray technology to further investigate the link between MDS and acute myloid leukaemia.

‘We still don’t know why some patients with this disease go on to develop leukaemia. We need to decipher what happens after the myelodysplasia develops and the changes that occur in the pattern of genes which might cause patients to become leukaemic,’ Dr Boultwood said. ‘DNA microarray technology allows us to study over 30,000 genes in a single MDS cell and is already giving us important insight into the disease, paving the way for more effective treatments.’

Two more grants, each of £45,000, have been made to research teams led by Professor David Mason and by Dr Alison Banham and Dr Karen Pulford at the LRF Immunodiagnostics Unit. The grants will be used to investigate lymphoma, which affects nearly 10,000 people in the UK. Lymphoma is a type of blood cancer that occurs when an error in the way lymphosites are produced creates abnormal cells. There are nearly 30 sub-types of this disease, making it difficult to treat. Researchers working within the Unit are undertaking laboratory studies of lymphoma at a molecular level, with the aim of understanding its pathogenesis and improving its diagnosis and management.

Dr David Grant, Scientific Director of Leukaemia Research, said: ‘With a tradition of attracting the highest quality medical research in the world, Oxford has always been a central focus of Leukaemia Research. This major award highlights our commitment to saving the lives of people with leukaemia, lymphoma, myeloma and related diseases.’


The opinions expressed here are the views of the writer and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of News Medical.
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