Queen Mary University of London

20 Aug 2015

Queen Mary University London is renowned as a world-leading centre for research into myelodysplastic syndromes (MDS), adult leukaemias, and stem cell transplants.

Our scientists here work closely with doctors who treat blood cancer patients at the local King’s College Hospital and Guy’s and St Thomas’ Hospital to bring new treatments and improvements in diagnosis to blood cancer patients.

Improving stem cell transplants

Stem cell transplants using cells from healthy donors is currently the only way to cure many blood cancers. One barrier to this is a harmful complication called graft-versus-host disease (GvHD), where donor cells attack healthy cells in the recipient. A common effect this has is damage to the gut.

Dr Jeff Davies is studying the role of retinoic acid, a chemical produced by cells in the body, in human GvHD affecting the gut. This may shed light on a way to block retinoic acid to prevent or treat GvHD.

 

Preventing leukaemia relapse

Dr Bela Wrench is investigating the biology of blood cancer cells to understand how blood cancers start and why some become resistant to treatment. Using cells from patients and mice in the lab, her team is aiming to isolate and study dormant acute lymphoblastic leukaemia (ALL) cells. By understanding how some ALL cells become dormant, they hope to shed light on how some resistance to chemotherapy can develop and how to treat them to prevent relapse.

 

Understanding the genetics of blood cancers

Most cases of MDS and acute myeloid leukaemia (AML) result from genetic mistakes picked up over a patient's lifetime, but a handful of cases arise because a person has inherited genetic faults that increase their likelihood of a cancer developing.

A major programme at Queen Mary University of London, led by Professor Inderjeet Dokal, Professor Jude Fitzgibbon and Dr Tom Vulliamy, hopes to increase our understanding and improve the management of patients who have these inherited forms of MDS and AML.