Can MPN be cured?

Lead researcher - Professor Tony Whetton and Dr Andrew Pierce, University of Manchester
Eradication of the leukaemic clone in myeloproliferative neoplasms
Amount awarded: £299,732
Award start date: 11 May 2019
Award duration: 3 years (36 months)

We currently have several drugs available that can treat myeloproliferative neoplasms (MPN), but these are not ideal as there are still risks like blood clots and uncontrolled bleeding. Further in some people, their MPN transforms into an aggressive leukaemia, which is extremely hard to treat. Being able to cure MPN rather than just manage it would greatly improve the outlook and quality of life for people with this disease.

Professor Whetton and his team are investigating MPN stem cells, which are the source of all other MPN cells. Along with other research groups, the team have already found a weakness in CML stem cells which could be targeted by drugs, and these are now being tested in clinical trials. These drug targets are also applicable to MPN stem cells, and the group want to investigate this further. The team have also identified drugs used in other diseases that could be applicable to MPN. Using drugs that are already in clinical trials for other diseases will help enormously in fast-tracking any potential treatment opportunities generated into the clinic.

If the team are successful, their work could unearth new drugs for MPN that cure rather than manage the disease, releasing people from the burden of living with MPN and the side effects of ongoing treatment.