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How we're beating lymphoma

Posted by
12 Apr 2010

Lymphoma is the most common form of blood cancer in teenagers and young adults aged between 15 and 35 years.

Around 17,000 adults, children and teenagers are diagnosed with lymphoma, including Hodgkin lymphoma, in the UK every year.

Leukaemia & Lymphoma Research is currently investing more than £10million into research across the UK to improve treatments and minimise the long-term side effects, for patients touched by these blood cancers.

This includes pioneering research to diagnose all the different types of lymphoma, identifying the cause of Hodgkin and non-Hodgkin lymphoma, developing new and better treatments and leading world-class clinical trials.

The ultimate goal of our research is to develop truly personalised treatments for lymphoma to ensure that all patients are given the best possible chance of survival.

Better diagnosis

There are more than 35 different types of lymphoma, which respond to different treatments. Improved diagnosis, largely pioneered by Leukaemia & Lymphoma Research scientists in Oxford, has driven the development of better treatments.

Diagnosing different types of lymphomas relies on identifying specific marker molecules on the surface of the blood cancer cells. Current research, also in Oxford, continues to improve diagnosis for rare forms of lymphoma by characterising these marker molecules more precisely.

Finding the cause

Our researchers in Glasgow were among the first in the world to identify a link between a common virus called Epstein Barr virus (EBV) and the development of Hodgkin lymphoma.

Continued research suggests that each person’s genetic make-up is important in determining how they will react to infection with EBV, and the risk of going on to develop Hodgkin lymphoma.

Our scientists in Birmingham are investigating these genetic changes in more detail, particularly looking at how Hodgkin lymphoma develops in children and teenagers after infection with EBV.

Clarifying these changes will help to develop better treatment and even prevent this blood cancer all together.

Pioneering new treatments

Our researchers in Edinburgh are investigating how the body’s own immune system could be enhanced to attack lymphoma cells.

This research has shown that lymphoma tumours are able to hijack patient’s own natural defence system in order to  grow, by sending out chemical messages to specific immune cells in the blood. Our scientists are exploring ways of blocking these signals so they can develop new drugs to treat patients with lymphoma more effectively.

Reducing side effects

Treatment for lymphoma is still fairly aggressive, often involving radiotherapy, which can have damaging long-term side effects. Our research is pioneering new treatments that are safer and more effective.

Research in Cambridge is exploring the role that specific genes play in causing various forms of lymphoma. This will help to develop more targeted treatments that have fewer side effects and allow patients to enjoy a better quality of life after treatment.