Searching for a cure for CML

Lead researcher - Dr David Vetrie, University of Glasgow
Crosstalk between PRC2 and BCL6 in regulating CML stem cell survival: From epigenomics to novel therapeutic approaches
Amount awarded: £140,544
Award start date: 01 Oct 2015
Award duration: 4 years

Chronic myeloid leukaemia (CML) affects 1-2 adults per 100,000 each year. The disease is caused by a DNA mutation (called BCR-ABL1). Advances have been made in the treatment of CML using drugs which result in remission of the disease in most patients. However these drugs do not cure the disease as a small number of leukaemic cells (leukaemic stem cells) are not killed by these drugs. These cells persist in patients and can result in the disease reoccurring – therefore patients need to remain on drug therapy for the entirety of their lives. We and others have been studying leukaemic stem cells and have identified two key proteins (called EZH2 and BCL6) that CML cells need to survive. When the activity of either of these proteins is inhibited using drugs - the leukaemic stem cells die. We are studying whether these two proteins work together in leukaemic stem cells and whether using two drugs together (one targeting EZH2 and one targeting BCL6) has a more potent effect at leukaemic stem cells. This project will understand the biology behind the function of these two proteins, and allow us to come up with better therapies to treat and eventually cure CML.