22 April 2024

A British charity has announced funding for scientific research aimed at reducing the side effects of treatment for acute myeloid leukaemia (AML).

Sunday 21 April was AML World Awareness Day. Marking the day, the charity Leukaemia UK announced its backing for the project led by Professor Terry Rabbits, professor of molecular immunology at the Institute of Cancer Research, London.

Professor Rabbits is using new technology his team have developed to deploy antibodies inside cancerous cells that target fusion proteins, hoping to develop innovative treatments for the condition.

He believes the strategy could reduce side effects and open the way for similar treatments for other blood cancers.

Professor Rabbitts said: “My team and I will explore a new approach to targeting fusion proteins by channelling antibodies inside cancer cells.  

“We have already begun a new technology that will allow us to deploy antibodies inside cells. Our aim is to get them to bind with the fusion proteins inside cancer cells to destroy them. This new anti-cancer strategy will mean fewer side effects for AML patients and should ultimately also benefit other blood cancers and solid tumours.”

Leukaemia UK says that just 13.6% of patients with AML survive for five years after diagnosis.

AML patient Bex Despard, aged 56, highlighted the side effects she has suffered over five years of treatment. Together with loss of weight, she became critically ill with sepsis. Five years later, after 15 bone marrow biopsies, she suffered a brain haemorrhage. Thankfully, Bex recovered, and has now been in remission for almost six years.

The charity’s chief executive Fiona Hazell said: “The treatments, which have remained largely unchanged since the 1960s, are harsh and can cause terrible side effects like the ones Bex sadly experienced. 

“We’re delighted to announce Professor Rabbitts’ new project, which, along with our other funded research projects, will help us to accelerate progress in leukaemia treatment and care. We want to offer patients like Bex the hope of more effective and gentler treatments in the future. Breakthroughs happen all the time and we won’t stop until we have found better, kinder treatments for all those affected.”

Source: Leukaemia UK


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