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How we're beating leukaemia

Posted by
12 Apr 2010

Around 7,000 adults are diagnosed with leukaemia in the UK every year.

Leukaemia & Lymphoma Research currently has more than £30 million invested in world-class research across the UK to develop better treatments and cures for patients with this type of blood cancer.

This includes pioneering research to develop new less toxic treatments, ground-breaking clinical trials and state-of-the-art stem cell research.

Leukaemia stem cells

Identifying stem cells that cause all the different types of leukaemia is an important part of our research strategy. This will enable our scientists to develop treatments that eradicate these blood cancers at the source.

Our researchers in Glasgow have already identified stem cells responsible for chronic myeloid leukaemia (CML) and they are now developing ways of targeting these cells to provide a permanent cure for patients with CML. Research is underway in Manchester to identify stem cells that cause adult acute lymphocytic leukaemia (ALL).

Understanding the basic biology of how healthy stem cells become cancerous is also critical to making stem cell transplants safer and more effective. More than 2,500 blood cancer patients need a life-saving transplant in the UK every year. Our research is improving this life-saving procedure to help cure more patients with leukaemia.

New drugs

New treatments are desperately needed for adults with leukaemia, as many patients cannot tolerate, or become resistant to standard chemotherapy. Our researchers across the UK aim to uncover the genes responsible for causing leukaemia and drug resistance, which knowledge will help to improve treatments for patients now and in the future.

In Cardiff our research is focused on developing new treatments for the most common, and difficult to treat, forms of leukaemia in adults - acute myeloid leukaemia (AML) and chronic lymphocytic leukaemia (CLL). By understanding the genetic basis of these diseases our scientists can identify new drug targets and develop alternative treatments.

Finding the cause

Genetic research is also important in finding the cause of leukaemia.

Our researchers in Newcastle are investigating the role of an enzyme, which is activated by many anti-cancer treatments, in causing DNA damage that leads to leukaemia. Establishing the link between this enzyme and leukaemia is important in developing new treatments.

Further research in Leeds is exploring genetic factors that predispose some patients to developing CLL. This, and similar research across the UK, will help us to develop better ways of diagnosing leukaemia that will lead to more personalised treatments.

Pioneering treatments

Our research is exploring ways of delivering powerful new anti-cancer treatments to patients with leukaemia.

At the Royal Free Hospital in London, our researchers are developing and testing ways to harness the power of the immune system to fight leukaemia. These new treatments will be particularly important for treating patients with acute leukaemias, which develop very quickly.

Our scientists in Southampton are developing DNA vaccines, which train the immune system to recognise and destroy cancer cells in patients with CML. These innovative treatments will offer new hope to patients with leukaemia who do not respond to conventional treatments.

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