How does leukaemia develop in babies?

Lead researcher - Professor Katrin Ottersbach, University of Edinburgh
Mechanism of lineage switching and the role of the cell-of-origin in MLL-rearranged infant leukaemia
Amount awarded: £248,889
Award start date: 01 May 2019
Award duration: 3 years (36 months)

While we now have good treatments for older children with leukaemia, these don’t work very well for babies under a year old, often causing severe side effects and long-term health issues. To create better treatments for babies, it is important to gain a better understanding of how their leukaemia develops, and especially how some leukaemias, called mixed lineage leukaemias (MLLs) can change in a way that makes them harder to treat.

Professor Ottersbach and her team are looking at two different genetic errors that occur before birth and can lead to MLL. They are investigating the role that each of these errors have in the development of MLL and how CAR-T treatment can change the course of the disease. Improving our understanding of the factors driving leukaemia relapse in children will help lay the groundwork for new, kinder treatments.