Researcher Talks: Marc Mansour on T-ALL chemo resistance

18 Jul 2017

Marc Mansour talks about his research into why adults with T-cell acute lymphoblastic leukaemia (T-ALL) can become resistant to chemotherapy.

Marc is an Associate Professor at University College London, where he is Group Leader of the Leukaemia Biology Research Group. He is also an Honorary Consultant Haematologist at University College London Hospital.

He speaks about his Bloodwise-funded research project, which could improve treatment for adults with T-cell acute lymphoblastic leukaemia (T-ALL) who develop resistance to chemotherapy.

“Bloodwise fund us to research a disease called t-cell acute lymphoblastic leukemia, or T-ALL. We're interested in understanding the mechanisms by which T-ALL becomes resistant to chemotherapy drugs; the reason for that is that although we can now cure nearly ninety percent of children with T-ALL, over fifty percent of adults with T-ALL will actually die from their disease.

“Patients do so badly with the currently used treatments because they become resistant to chemotherapy, something called chemoresistance. Through our Bloodwise funded project, we've been able to identify a protein called MCL-1 which seems to be highly expressed in patients with the most aggressive forms of leukemia. It seems to protect those leukemia cells from the chemotherapy drugs we use.

“Excitingly, going forward, there are drugs that target MCL-1, called MCL-1 inhibitors, that are being developed by drug companies. We should be able to test these drugs shortly for their ability to overcome chemoresistance in leukemia.

“In terms of the benefit for patients, we would really be trying to use these drugs in the relapse and refractory setting, for patients with the most resistant forms of the disease. We would eventually like to move these drugs earlier into treatment so that we can now dose reduce the chemotherapy drugs that we currently use that cause so much toxicity.

“Without funding from Bloodwise we really wouldn't be able to do this work and so I think a big debt of gratitude is owed to all those that supported Bloodwise over the years.”

Read our information and support on T-cell acute lymphoblastic leukaemia (T-ALL).