A researcher from the University of Dundee has been given one of five major grants from the charity Cancer Research UK to investigate enzymes thought to promote the development of acute myeloid leukaemia (AML).
Dr Kasper Rasmussen's Career Development Fellowship is worth £1.4 million and will enable him to pursue a project which could lead to novel therapies for AML.
DNA methylation is where chemical changes are made to the DNA code which affect the activity of certain genes. This process is controlled by two opposing enzymes, TET2 and DNMT3A, which are “in a constant state of flux,” according to Dr Rasmussen. Mutations in these enzymes have been identified that lead to the development of premalignant cells, which in turn can develop into myeloid dysplastic syndromes and AML.
Dr Rasmussen said he was “very excited” by the opportunity. He said: “Understanding the role of DNA methylation in this process might provide a way to prevent this from happening by exploiting vulnerabilities shared by malignant and premalignant cells alike.”
Karen Noble, from Cancer Research UK, said: “The main treatment for acute myeloid leukaemia is chemotherapy, and this has been the case for decades. Dr Rasmussen’s research will help us to understand what goes wrong in the body to cause this aggressive blood cancer.
“With this new insight, we may be able to develop more targeted and effective treatments for the disease with fewer side effects, helping to improve patients’ quality of life.”
Source: University of Dundee
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