Dr Adam Linley, University of Liverpool
Project Title: Kinomic reprogramming during clonal evolution and therapy resistance in chronic lymphocytic leukaemia.
Chronic lymphocytic leukaemia (CLL) is a cancer that can progress slowly and is caused by the bone marrow producing too many underdeveloped lymphocytes. Lymphocytes are a type of white blood cell that help fight infection.
Although therapies are available to treat this disease, none are curative. Dr Adam Linley will be working with a team at the University of Liverpool to investigate why people with chronic lymphocytic leukaemia so often develop resistance to current treatment therapies resulting in relapse.
This research hopes to lead to the discovery of mechanisms that could be used to design new treatment therapies or modify existing ones to improve patient outcome.
Dr Antonio Galleu, King's College, London
Project Title: Inducing apoptotic mesenchymal stromal cells for the treatment of graft-versus-host disease.
Bone marrow transplantation is the only curative treatment for many blood cancers but its use can be marred by Graft-versus-host disease (GvHD). Recently, therapy with mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) has been very promising. However, at least half of the patients do not respond to this treatment.
Dr Galleu's research builds on his earlier findings that MSCs are beneficial only when they are killed by the patients’ immune system. Therefore, patients who do not kill MSCs do not respond.
In this project, he aims to engineer MSCs to commit suicide after their infusion by using a combination of genetic modifications triggered by a drug. This strategy will allow physicians to make MSCs die “on demand” only when they reach the organs affected by GvHD. The results will change the way of using MSCs and make a personalised treatment effective in virtually all patients.
Dr Alice Giustacchini, University College London
Project Title: Investigating the implications of stem cell metabolic heterogeneity in malignant hematopoiesis.
Development of effective treatments to prevent and eradicate leukaemia requires a better understanding of the mechanisms behind the transition from a healthy cell to a cancerous one. Importantly, leukaemia development is associated with the acquisition of aberrant metabolic features, making cancer metabolism an attractive target for new therapeutic strategies.
Dr Alice Giustacchini 's work will investigate whether metabolic states of cells are connected to their potential for becoming cancerous and for developing resistance to treatment.
Metabolism is closely associated to cell functions in normal and malignant tissues, and as part of this research she hopes to test if malignant transformation and therapy resistance can be prevented or reduced.
Results from this project at University College London, may lead to the development of new strategies for leukaemia eradication and prevention.
Dr Sarah Dimeloe, University of Birmingham
Project Title: Defining T cell metabolic fitness in myeloma bone marrow.
Multiple myeloma (MM) is a cancer which develops in the bone marrow. It is difficult to treat and has poor survival rates. One possible treatment option that has been successful in other cancers is to use cells of the body’s immune system (T cells) to kill the cancer.
Dr Sarah Dimeloe will study the metabolism of bone marrow T cells from patients with MM and compare this to healthy individuals.
She will investigate how other cells in the bone marrow affect T cells by changing their metabolism. Finally, she will try to design T cells that have the ideal metabolic features for survival, function and tumour-killing in the bone marrow.