2018 Research Grant Award
£80,151 for a 36 month PhD project to start April 2019 at Norwich Medical School, Bob Champion Research and Education Building, UEA.
Dr Stuart Rushworth
Professor Kristian Bowles (co-applicant)
Leukaemia is a cancer characterised by the accumulation of abnormal blood cells in the bone marrow. The leukaemia can be thought of as the ‘seed’ and the bone marrow microenvironment in which it grows as the ‘soil’, and both ‘seed’ and ‘soil’ are specifically adapted to promote leukaemia growth and chemotherapy resistance. This project will advance our understanding of how the bone marrow microenvironment promotes the survival and proliferation of abnormal leukaemia cells.
Specifically, we will study a disease called acute myeloid leukaemia (AML), which is the commonest aggressive form of leukaemia in adults. AML is primarily a disease of the elderly. Moreover, not only is AML more common in older people, the prognosis is much worse for older patients than younger patients. In fact, even with current treatments, as many as 70% of patients 65 years or older will die of their disease within 1 year of diagnosis.
While many patients can achieve a remission almost all will eventually relapse and die because of failure to eradicate the disease from the bone marrow. AML is therefore more likely to develop in older bone marrow and furthermore, once started, is then particularly well adapted to progress in the older bone marrow microenvironment. Therefore, this research will specifically investigate the contributing role of the aging bone marrow microenvironment to AML and particularly will address how this supports the growth and survival of this highly chemotherapy resistant disease.