Improving the lives of children with leukaemia through tailored treatment

Lead researcher - Professors Christine Harrison and Anthony Moorman, Newcastle University
Leukaemia Research Cytogenetics Group Specialist Programme
Amount awarded: £3,010,669
Award start date: 01 Apr 2016
Recruitment start date: 13 Jul 2017
Award duration: 5 years

Led by Professors Harrison and Moorman, the Cytogenetics Group are collaborating with scientists in the UK and across the globe to identify the genetic faults that drive leukaemia and cause treatment resistance. Their work will help doctors predict how people will respond to treatment so that they can individualise care, understand why some drugs don’t work in some people and identify targets for the development of new targeted treatments.

The leukaemias are a group of cancers affecting the bone marrow and blood of patients. It is now widely accepted that all leukaemia cells have at least one, but probably more, faulty genes, which are the cause of the disease. The discovery and characterisation of these abnormal genes assists in diagnosis and provides important information on how best to treat patients. Since 1992, the Leukaemia Research Cytogenetics Group has been at the forefront of these areas of research into acute leukaemia of children and adults and has made significant contributions, which have helped to improve survival of patients. The central theme of our research is the ongoing collection and analysis of genetic data from UK acute leukaemia clinical trials. In the next five years we plan to (1) collect and analyse genetic data from thousands of trial patients to improve their management and outcome; (2) use state-of-the-art technologies to discover new genes involved in leukaemia; (3) investigate the ways in which faulty genes contribute to leukaemia development and resistance to treatment; (4) interact with the 100,000 Genome Project to establish whole genome sequencing as an effective and routine diagnostic tool for leukaemia patients.