How do blood stem cells make decisions and how does this go wrong in leukaemia?

Lead researcher - Dr David Kent, University of Cambridge
Understanding fate choice in normal and malignant haematopoietic stem cells
Amount awarded: £880,912
Award start date: 01 Aug 2015
Award duration: 5 years (60 months)

All cells in our body start out as stem cells. The different types of blood cell in our bloodstream develop from special blood stem cells, which are produced in our bone marrow - the soft spongy middle part of the bone.

But blood stem cells can sometimes pick up genetic changes, which permanently disrupts the  production of healthy blood cells, causing leukaemia to develop. And sadly, some current cancer treatments can also cause damage to blood stem cells, preventing the use of these treatments.

Dr Kent and his team at the University of Cambridge are working to find out how blood stem cells determine which blood cell they will develop into, and how this goes wrong in leukaemia. This increased knowledge will be helpful in finding new treatments for leukaemia.