Identifying the driving forces behind myelofibrosis

Lead researcher - Professor Adam Mead, University of Oxford
Molecular and functional characterization of abnormal megakaryocytes in myelofibrosis
Amount awarded: £249,852
Award start date: 01 Mar 2018
Award duration: 3 years, 6 months (42 months)

Myelofibrosis is a type of myeloproliferative neoplasm (MPN) in which the bone marrow is destroyed, meaning that the body can no longer produce any type of blood cell. Around 1 in 5 people with myelofibrosis will go on to develop acute myeloid leukaemia, one of the deadliest types of blood cancer. Currently treatments only deal with the symptoms of myelofibrosis and are unable to reduce bone marrow destruction or improve survival.

Professor Mead and his team want to find better ways to tackle this disease. To do so, they are exploring how an error in a gene called JAK2 triggers myelofibrosis. The gene change leads to changes in a group of bone marrow cells called megakaryocytes. It is these abnormal megakaryocytes which case bone marrow destruction. The team will examine thousands of individual megakaryocytes to determine what changes in these cells are most harmful to bone marrow.

If successful, Professor Mead’s work should help identify targets for new treatments that can reduce bone marrow destruction and improving survival for people with myelofibrosis.