25 Oct 2013

Studying the causes of chronic lymphocytic leukaemia: £200,000 research grant from AICR

Professor Fabienne Mackay’s laboratory has received a generous £200,000 grant from the prestigious Association for International Cancer Research (AICR) to study the causes of chronic lymphocytic leukaemia (CLL) and potential new therapeutic strategies. CLL is the most common adult leukaemia in the developed world and still has no cure. Affected patients have severely compromised immunity, leaving them vulnerable to recurrent infections, which are a major cause of death. The underlying cause of CLL remains elusive, limiting current treatment options. While chemotherapies effectively kill CLL tumour cells, the side effects often include a worsening of the damage to these patients’ immune systems and often the tumour returns when treatment ends. Prof Mackay’s team has discovered two unprecedented mechanisms used by tumour cells to actively suppress the immune systems of CLL patients and also identified strategies to restore a key cell type important for detecting and destroying tumour cells early in disease. It is hoped that these discoveries will be an important turning point for the improvement of current therapies and development of novel targeted therapies in the future, with the promise of improving the long-term survival of vulnerable CLL patients.

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