13th February 2013
Hello! My name is Alex, one of the haematology clinical research fellows at the Hammersmith Hospital. I am delighted to be able to update you on the work that I carry out here in the laboratory thanks to the generous support of Leuka, probably the best charity in the world!
A little about me – I trained as a doctor at UCL, completed my general medical training at Barts, followed by a big move… east to west London to start my specialty training in haematology at Imperial College. I have always been interested in cancer biology but also enjoy general medicine. Haematology is the perfect combination, allowing me to combine academic research into blood cancers with clinical work in the hospital.
In an ideal world cancer and leukaemia would not exist, however given that around 23 patients in the UK are diagnosed with a blood cancer each day, and leukaemia is the most common cancer of childhood, I really hope to spend the rest of my career contributing to the research and care of patients and their families whose lives are transformed the day they are told the news that they or their loved ones have a serious disease.
I do believe that in my lifetime the leukaemia code will be cracked. So many incredible, new, groundbreaking techniques and therapies are being developed around the world at such an impressive pace that it’s a full time interest of mine keeping up. I hope through regular blogging I can update and summarise some of these findings for you.
My research interest focus is chronic myeloid leukaemia, CML for short, where I am looking at the effects of epigenetics on the disease. Epigenetics is a word that is probably unfamiliar to you but it simply refers to the way genes are controlled – in other words how genes are switched on or off! For example, in leukaemia we know that genes responsible for controlling white blood cell growth and numbers become unregulated and are switched off resulting in really high numbers of cells. Some patient readers will recall how high their white blood cell counts were when they were newly diagnosed with CML in clinic. For the past 2 years I have spent time identifying genes switched off by epigenetic processes in the hope that we can better understand why people develop CML and once they have it, which therapy is most suitable for them based on their epigenetic profile.
In my next blog I propose to go into this in more detail, explain the current research findings in leukaemia epigenetics and tell you about epigenetic therapies that are already being used in the clinic.
In the meantime I leave with you some photographic evidence of the extent to which I would go to raise money and support Leuka! I I look forward to answering any questions. Have a good week in this cold and wet weather!