Reapplying the brakes in out of control CLL cells

Lead researcher - Dr Alison Michie, University of Glasgow
Elucidating the mechanisms that regulate FOXO activity in chronic lymphocytic leukaemia – a novel target for therapeutic exploitation?
Amount awarded: £249,285
Award start date: 01 Jan 2019
Award duration: 3 years (36 months)

Chronic lymphocytic leukaemia (CLL) is the most common blood cancer among adults in the UK and is not yet curable. While in many cases people with CLL will respond to chemotherapy or targeted treatments, these treatments will eventually stop working. We need new therapies that can overcome this problem.

Dr Michie and her team are exploring the role of a group of proteins called FOXO in CLL, which can act as ‘brakes’ on the growth of cells. But in CLL, the surrounding cells in the lymph node switch off FOXO, meaning that CLL cells can grow out of control. Dr Michie wants to know if disrupting the signals that are stopping FOXO proteins from working can prevent CLL cells from growing.

There are already drugs available that can stop the signals switching off FOXO, so if Dr Michie’s work is successful, one or more of these may quickly become a new treatment option for people with CLL.