Research grant news

Friday, 11 July 2014

Leukaemia & Lymphoma NI is pleased to announce the recipients of two further grants from the Golden Anniversary Research Programme.   These grants are part of the £500,000 investment programme into blood cancer research and represent the largest single investment the charity has made into blood cancer research.

The new research grants have both been awarded to Dr Alex Thompson, with different collaborators, in the Centre for Cancer Research and Cell Biology (CCRCB) in Queen’s University Belfast.   In the first grant, Dr Thompson is working with Dr Shu-Dong Zhang from the Cancer Bioinformatics Group, to identify novel therapies for leukaemia, lymphoma and myeloma – in fact all the types of blood cancers. Dr Thompson said, “International collaboration is vital for the advancement of treatment of blood cancers and with Shu-Dong we will access a new library of data (established at the BROAD Institute of MIT and Harvard in Boston) that links potential therapeutics with human disease”.  The research will focus on blood cancers and the team have previously demonstrated usefulness of this approach in identifying Entinostat as a candidate drug for leukaemia.  

In the second research grant, Dr Thompson, is working with Professor Tim Harrison from the Drug Discovery group within the CCRCB, to investigate novel combination therapies for acute myeloid leukaemia (AML).  Dr Thompson said, “Although a highly heterogeneous disease, AML is well-defined by genetic and molecular subtype.  It is clear that in the vast majority of cases single agents are incapable of curing AML and novel combination therapies are required”. It has recently been shown that epigenetic proteins, which are master regulators of gene expression, malfunction in AML due to mutation or altered expression.  Dr Thompson continues, “Targeting epigenetic enzymes will result in sensitizing AML cells to other chemotherapies or molecular inhibitors.  To use a boxing analogy we aim to knock out AML by giving it a one-two punch”.

Mr Bill Pollock, Chair of the Leukaemia & Lymphoma NI, said “we are very pleased to be able to announce the recipients of Phase II of our Anniversary Research Programme and particularly pleased to be able to support Dr Thompson who has an international reputation at the cutting edge of research into AML.  This programme has only been possible through the enthusiastic fundraising by our Branch members, supporters, relatives and friends of patients affected by blood cancers, which is much appreciated.”