Monitoring the progression of aggressive blood cancers and finding new ways to stop them
White blood cells make proteins called antibodies that help the body fight infection. In order to produce lots of different types of antibodies, white blood cells can reshuffle their DNA in a process called ‘programmed mutation’. However, sometimes programmed mutation can go wrong, leading to blood cancer or other diseases.
Dr Braun and his team have previously found that levels of a protein called Lamin B1 drop during programmed mutation. Levels of the protein are also lower than normal in people with blood cancer, especially those who have aggressive and hard to treat disease and do not live long. The team now want to explore exactly how and why Lamin B1 can influence the outcome of blood cancer.
Lamin B1 is found in a part of the cell called the nuclear envelope which protects DNA and keeps it stable. The team will investigate how the nuclear envelope protects against harmful genetic errors in blood cancer, what happens to the nuclear envelope as blood cancer develops, and how the body regulates what the nuclear envelope does.
If successful, this project could help to predict the development of some of the most aggressive types of blood cancer by measuring the levels of Lamin B1. This could be particularly helpful for people with follicular lymphoma – a slow growing blood cancer that can progress to a highly aggressive and hard to treat form of lymphoma. The findings from this project could also lead to the development of drugs that attack blood cancers in a completely new way.