Adam O
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Manchester scientists receive £1.8 million grant to develop new treatments for leukaemia

Adam O
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07 Jan 2014

Scientists at the University of Manchester have been awarded a £1.8 million grant by Leukaemia & Lymphoma Research, to improve treatments for leukaemia patients.

Professor Tony Whetton, will lead the five-year project which aims to develop new treatments that are more effective at seeking out and destroying leukaemia cells.

Leukaemia is a blood cancer in which patients produce large amounts of abnormal white blood cells that accumulate in the bone marrow and hinder the production of other important blood cells.

Faulty versions of proteins known as tyrosine kinases can drive a number of leukaemias, such as chronic myeloid leukaemia (CML) and myeloproliferative neoplasms (MPNs). Drugs that target these proteins, tyrosine kinase inhibitors, are often very effective at controlling these diseases but do not offer a cure, in addition not all patients respond.  

Professor Whetton, Vice Dean of the Faculty of Medical & Human Sciences and Professor of Cancer Cell Biology at The University of Manchester – part of Manchester Cancer Research Centre, said: “Whilst DNA is the blueprint of the cell, proteins are the work horses involved in the control of all cellular processes. Disruption of these proteins and their networks leads to many diseases including leukaemia.”

“Through the large scale study of proteins over the last 10 years we have shown particular processes are common to many types of leukaemia. Our present research is aimed at further understanding these pathways and investigating how we may target them more effectively with drugs.”

Dr Matt Kaiser, Head of Research at Leukaemia & Lymphoma Research, said: “The development of tyrosine kinase inhibitors over the last decade has revolutionised the treatment of CML and has rightly been held up as an exemplar of targeted cancer therapy. Nevertheless, these drugs often only control the disease, if at all, and may bring some side effects. Findings from this research could help to improve the treatment of a number of leukaemias, giving more patients the chance of a life-long cure.”



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