Finding ways to target the roots of AML

Lead researcher - Professor Kamil Kranc, Barts Cancer Institute, Queen Mary University of London
RNA splicing regulator JMJD6 as a new tumour suppressor in mouse and human acute myeloid leukaemia
Amount awarded: £241,376
Award start date: 01 Nov 2018
Award duration: 3 years (36 months)

Normal blood stem cells live in the bone marrow – the softy spongy layer found inside bones - and produce all the different types of blood cells found in our body. In blood cancers such as acute myeloid leukaemia (AML), blood stem cells are damaged and turn into cancer stem cells, which cannot make normal blood cells. Instead, they make a continual stream of leukaemia cells.

Most treatments can kill the main bulk of AML cells, but are unable to kill the AML stem cells, which constantly produce a stream of new AML cells. This causes the AML to return even more aggressively after treatment. Professor Kranc and his team want to know more about how AML stem cells work, so they can find ways to kill them.

Professor Kranc’s previous research has shown that a group of proteins called JMJD protects healthy blood stem cells and prevents them from transforming into AML stem cells. The team now want to investigate this further, which could lead to new treatments for AML that work by killing off the AML stem cells, stopping the cancer at its source.