On my way to work this morning I made a literature search to find the most recent publications in the scientific literature about chronic lymphocytic leukaemia (CLL). The search revealed over 100 peer reviewed* research and review papers that have been published in 2012. This represents more than one new publication a day.
This simple analysis reveals the intensity of research that is now being undertaken into the causes, biology and treatment of the most common of leukaemias. The contribution of UK based research to this effort is significant.
Last week the UK CLL Forum held their annual scientific meeting with a programme organised by Leukaemia & Lymphoma Research programme grant holder Prof. Tatjana Stankovic. It was a day of first class science and included the Leukaemia & Lymphoma Research sponsored lecture this year given by Professor Nicholas Chiorazzi from New York and a fascinating talk about cell-cell interactions important in driving the disease from Professor Ludvig Munthe of the University of Oslo. In addition six UK-based researchers funded by the charity** gave talks that would have graced any blood cancer research meeting anywhere in the world.
The meeting was dedicated to Professor Terry Hamblin who died on 8 January this year. Terry was the founder of the UK CLL forum and enjoyed universal respect both in the UK and around the world. Terry’s daughter Karen presented the Hamblin Prize to Sergy Kysov for the best research paper by a young UK CLL Forum investigator in the last 12 months***.
Although tinged with sadness following the untimely loss of Terry Hamblin, the event emphasised that these are exciting times in CLL research. Although currently considered incurable I believe that amongst blood cancers CLL is ‘one to watch’ and that real progress in this disease is just around the corner and we could soon be talking of cures.
* Peer review is the globally accepted practice of using reviews by experts in the field to determine whether an academic article is robust enough to warrant publishing.
**LLR speakers were Dr Andrew Steele & Prof, Graham Packham (Southampton), Prof Stephen Devereux (London), Dr Karen Brown (Leicester), Dr Elaine Willmore (Newcastle), Dr Grant Stewart (Birmingham).
***Surface IgM induces Mec1/2 dependent MYC expression in chronic lymphocytic leukaemia cells, Blood 2012, 119: 170.
Professor Chris Bunce, Research Director of Leukaemia & Lymphoma Research