Understanding the battle between healthy and leukaemic blood cells

Lead researcher - Dr Cristina Lo Celso, Imperial College London
In vivo imaging of the interactions between invading leukaemia, declining healthy haematopoietic cells and remodelled stroma cells in the bone marrow: implications for novel therapeutic interventions
Amount awarded: £148,596
Award start date: 01 Oct 2016
Award duration: 4 years (48 months)

All the different types of blood cells found in the body are produced by a rare set of cells called ‘blood stem cells’ which are found in the bone marrow. People with leukaemia have genetic faults in some of their blood stem cells, which means they start making blood cells that are unable to carry out their usual jobs of fighting infection, carrying oxygen around the body and wound healing. The large numbers of abnormal blood cells also start to crowd out the normal blood cells from the bone marrow, so the body is unable to produce any healthy blood.

In this PhD project, Chiara Pirillo will work with Dr Cristina Lo Celso and her team at Imperial College London, and will use a powerful and cutting-edge microscope to see how healthy and leukaemic blood cells in the bone marrow interact. This will give them a deeper understanding of how healthy blood cells might be inhibited by leukaemia, and identify new ways to treat the disease.