Imperial College London was named as a Centre of Excellence by Leukaemia & Lymphoma Research, with a plaque unveiling at Hammersmith Hospital.
The charity has £4 million currently invested in over 20 different research projects at the affiliated institutions, which have been recognised for their world-class research into all the main blood cancers – leukaemia, lymphoma and myeloma.
Pioneering projects funded by the charity at Hammersmith, which is part of Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust, include research into improving stem cell transplants for patients with blood cancers. Transplants are often the last chance of a cure but the procedure is very risky. Patients frequently suffer a life-threatening complication called ‘graft versus host disease’ (GvHD), in which immune cells of the donor, which are also transferred during the transplant, recognise the patient’s own cells as foreign and attack them.
Innovative research at Imperial is investigating new ways of overcoming GvHD using a newly identified type of stem cell that can be boosted to control the donor immune system.
Many of the Leukaemia & Lymphoma Research scientists at Imperial are also experts who treat patients with blood cancers at the adjoining Hammersmith Hospital, ensuring that any breakthroughs in treatments benefit blood cancer patients as soon as possible.
The unveiling of the Centre of Excellence, at Imperial’s Hammersmith Hospital Campus, is part of the charity’s plans to focus investment in leading research institutions across the UK.
Other of the charity’s projects include research into how patients become resistant to common drugs for myeloma – a cancer of the bone marrow. Myeloma is currently incurable and scientist and doctors in Hammersmith are working together to try to design more effective treatments.
Cathy Gilman, Chief Executive of Leukaemia & Lymphoma Research, said: “Imperial truly is a Centre of Excellence in research into blood cancers. Our scientists here are consistently helping to improve treatment and diagnosis for patients in London and across the UK.”
Professor Jane Apperley, Chair of the Department of Haematology at Imperial, said: “We’re delighted to have been named as one of Leukaemia & Lymphoma Research’s Centres of Excellence. Treatments for blood cancers have advanced rapidly in recent years and the pace of research is really exciting. The support of charities such as Leukaemia & Lymphoma Research is vital to keep this going."