University of Birmingham scientists have been awarded £1 million by Leukaemia & Lymphoma Research for a project to develop new treatments for lymphoma.
Lymphomas are a group of cancers of the blood, diagnosed in over 11,000 people a year in the UK. They often appear as solid tumours in lymph nodes, glands that are crucial to the immune system's ability to fight infection.
A five-year study will investigate how over-production by the body of specific small molecules, in the form of lipids, can cause two types of lymphoma – Hodgkin lymphoma and the most common form, diffuse large B cell lymphoma. Certain lipids are known to be linked to the development of several types of cancer, but little is known about their involvement in lymphomas.
By analysing and manipulating patients’ normal white blood cells and abnormal lymphoma cells in the laboratory, the Birmingham researchers will establish how activation of these lipid signals contribute to the early stages of lymphoma development. The scientists will use mice and human cells to test whether new drugs designed to inhibit the effects of lipids are effective in halting the lymphoma’s progress.
Professor Paul Murray, of the University of Birmingham’s School of Cancer Sciences, said: “We expect this research will lead to new treatments for these diseases. Measuring the levels of these lipids in tissues and blood should also be a valuable tool in helping doctors identify those patients who might benefit from these novel treatments.”
Dr Matt Kaiser, Head of Research at Leukaemia & Lymphoma Research, said: “New drugs are vital for patients with these types of lymphoma, not only so those who do not respond well to or are not fit enough for current conventional therapies have a better chance of surviving their disease, but also to reduce the long-term side-effects of treatment and give patients a better quality of life.”