Bad Blood

Microscopic image of acute myeloid leukaemia cells attached on optimised bone marrow niche

Acute Myeloid Leukaemia (AML) is an aggressive and clinically challenging blood cancer. Treatment usually involves intensive chemotherapy and potentially a stem cell transplant, both of which require patients to be fit with no other health issues. They are associated with many side effects, some of which are life-threatening. Currently, only 26% of AML patients survive 5 years from diagnosis and new treatment strategies are needed that prevent relapse. One issue hindering successful treatment is that AML cells ‘stick’ to other cells in the bone marrow, which protect them from chemotherapy and allow them to grow. Chemotherapy kills AML cells in blood, but is less effective at targeting those “hidden” in the bone marrow. The main aim of my project is to identify how AML cells stick to the bone marrow and find ways to release them into the blood where they will be more susceptible to the effects of chemotherapy.

Brighton and Sussex Medical School

Lead supervisor: Andrea Pepper