Leukaemia UK has been funding significant haematological research for many years. We are proud that much of the early research sponsored by our charity has paved the way for important advances in the treatment of blood cancers.

Current research programmes

Research on T-cells' role in low-grade B-cell non-Hodgkin lymphoma, University of Leicester

There is evidence that T-cells play an important role in low-grade B-cell non-Hodgkin lymphoma (B-NHL) by influencing lymphoma growth and survival but the majority of these studies have used T-cells collected from lymph node biopsies, which are invasive for patients and cannot be repeated to monitor for change. Little work has been done to establish whether analysis of T-cells from the blood may also provide clinically important information about a patient’s lymphoma. This 9 month laboratory project, awarded to final year medical student Elliot Byford, analysed blood T-cells from patients with low-grade B-NHL and showed that lymphoma patients demonstrate a skewed pattern of T-cell subtypes compared to healthy people. These alterations in circulating T-cells may be important in understanding the behaviour of a patient’s lymphoma and further work in this area may lead to the development of a blood test that can predict a patient’s risk of progression and ultimately inform treatment decisions.

Researcher: Elliot Byford

Leukaemia UK kindly provided a small grant to support an iBSc project.

Elliot Byford proved to be an excellent student and I am pleased to say that today he had a paper published in the journal PLOS One.

  This is an impressive output for a 9 month iBSc project. As a result of his experience Elliot is keen to pursue a career in academic haematology and this publication will prove an excellent platform for him to build on.

We are very grateful for the support from Leukaemia UK without which the project would not have been possible.

      Matt Ahearne,  Clinical Lecturer in Haematology,  University of Leicester


Research into the recurrence of non Hodgkin lymphoma in young adults, Guy's Hospital, London

This three year study, funded with a £147,000 grant, is collecting diagnosis, treatment and outcome data on every 15-29 year old with non Hodgkin lymphoma diagnosed within a three year period in England, Wales and Scotland. The aim is to establish the incidence of each NHL type, document the treatments used and record remission and cure rates. Early data analysis has shown a clear decline in recovery rates in this age group after recurrence.  Many UK hospitals are now sharing data, and the study is extending to Australia and New Zealand. We hope to achieve rapid patient benefit through identifying existing treatments which work best.

Researcher: Dr Robert Carr

MRI scanning of non Hodgkin lymphoma patients to identify non-responders to certain medications, King's College Hospital, London

This research works on the hypothesis that MRI scanning may lead to an early identification of patients that are responding well and less well to chemotherapy. This may allow more tailored therapy and has the additional advantage of being an imaging test that is free of radiation. This promising piece of research will be completed by the end of this year.

Researcher: Dr Shireen Kassam

Gene therapy clinical trial, King's College Hospital, London

A grant of £440,000 from Leukaemia UK allowed researchers to carry out the world's first trial of combination immune gene therapy to treat leukaemia patients who had reached the end of conventional treatment options. Our financial support also enabled scientists to pioneer an entirely new vaccination strategy for treatment across a range of leukaemias and solid tumours. King’s now produces nearly every single GMP [Good Manufacturing Practice] vector for gene therapy programmes in this country and across a number of centres in Europe. These vectors are the genes that are inserted into cells to force those cells to target bad cells and kill them. This programme is ongoing.

Researchers: Professor Ghulam Mufti and Professor Farzin Farzaneh

Previous Leukaemia UK research projects

Research into the effect of age on the development of acute myeloid leukaemia (AML), University of Manchester

This study, made with a Leukaemia UK grant of £204,000, enabled scientists to study the early stage of acute myeloid leukaemia with a specific focus on the impact that a patient's age has on the development of the condition. Researchers wanted to understand more about the effect that age has on a leukaemia patient's prognosis.

Lead researcher: Dr Stefan Meyer

Research into leukaemia treatment that preserves healthy cells, Cell Therapy Unit, King's College Hospital, London

Clinicians are faced with a difficult conundrum when using chemotherapy on leukaemia patients. While it kills the leukaemic cell, it also kills normal non leukaemic cells, which is a major cause of treatment side-effects. Using a Leukaemia UK grant of £150,000 researchers began to tackle this problem by developing a more specific treatment that only targets the leukaemic cell, leaving healthy cells untouched.

Researcher: Dr Terry Gaymes

Research using immunotherapy to develop a leukaemia vaccine, University of Leicester and Leicester Royal Infirmary

An early project for Leukaemia UK, this project generated hybrid cells from ex-vivo haematological tumour cells, with a view to being able to build a vaccine.  A total of £250,000 was invested in this novel immunotherapeutic approach into the treatment of leukaemia.  This is now an area of great advances in treatments. 

Researcher: Dr Michael Browning