Laura Pickering
Posted by
Laura Pickering

How Jackie Boultwood’s research is beating blood cancer

Laura Pickering
Posted by
Laura Pickering
03 Mar 2015

Professor Jackie Boultwood, a researcher funded by Leukaemia & Lymphoma Research, will use powerful new ‘gene editing technology’ in an attempt to correct the genetic faults that cause myelodysplastic syndromes (MDS).

What is MDS? 

Myelodysplastic syndromes (MDS) are a group of serious blood cancers where blood cell production breaks down, causing anaemia and frequent infections, and people with MDS have a high chance of developing acute myeloid leukaemia (AML). There aren’t many treatments for this type of blood cancer, and many people with MDS will die of their condition, due to severe infections or because the disease progresses into an acute leukaemia. But we want to change that with our research.

What's the aim of your research?

We’re dedicated to improving the treatment, survival and quality of life of patients with this blood cancer. Our research is looking at the DNA of people with MDS, and is trying to identify the changes in patients' DNA to help find new drugs to treat the condition. We’re also looking at the genetic changes which cause MDS to change into AML -  which might stop people with MDS going on to develop AML.

What have you achieved so far?

So far, we’ve made some amazing progress towards improving treatment for MDS. We’ve looked at one specific section of DNA and homed in on the genetic faults which drive the disease. Thanks to this breakthrough, we’re looking at several new types of precisely targeted treatments for people with MDS. We’re also using the information about which genes are different in people with MDS, compared to people without the disease, to improve how we predict the outcome of someone’s treatment. But importantly, we’re pioneering a way to correct the cancer-causing genetic mistakes in the DNA in affected cells using a new cutting-edge gene editing technology – which, in the future, could treat the disease itself as well as stopping MDS from changing into the more serious AML.

How will your research change the lives of people affected by blood cancer?

Our research will make a real difference to the lives of people with blood cancer. Thanks to what we’ve found so far, we have a much better understanding of how the genetics of MDS works, which means that we’re better able to target therapies and improve the accuracy of a patient’s prognosis. These will improve the lives of people with MDS.

But our work’s not over yet. We need people like you to keep fundraising to help fund our vital research. Without you, we woudn't be able to improve treatments for people with MDS. But by fundraising at Blenheim Palace Triathlon, you’ll be helping us transform the lives of people with this serious disease.

If you could say one thing to our fundraisers, what would it be? 

We’re inspired by the passion and determination of people like you to help improve the lives of patients with blood cancers and to find a cure for blood cancer. Please do all you can to help us beat blood cancer for good.

£300 would pay for Jackie to look at the genetic faults in several genes in the DNA of patients – a technical called sensitive screening. This will give us a picture of the DNA faults specific to each patient, which will, in the future,  help to predict the outcome for a patient and could help to tailor treatment more closely to a patient’s needs.

Need some fundraising support? Read our fundraising advice to get moving towards your total to help researchers like Jackie. 

Join our Unstoppable Triathletes Facebook group for more updates on our research projects and tips on how you can fundraising to help beat blood cancer.