Blood cancers

Why we focus on blood cancers

Blood cancers are collectively the third largest cause of cancer mortality in the UK. Leukaemia and lymphoma represent the most common blood cancers that occur in younger patients.

There are two main types of lymphoma, Hodgkin’s lymphoma (HL) and non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma (NHL). Both are cancers of the lymphatic system and usually present as swelling of the lymph nodes.  Approximately 13,900 new cases of NHL are diagnosed in the UK each year, making it the 6th most common cancer in the UK. HL is much rarer, with about 2,100 new cases diagnosed in the UK each year.

Leukaemias can be acute or chronic and arise from the myeloid or lymphoid lineage. The treatment of chronic myeloid leukamia (CML) has been revolutionised by the use of agents such as Imatinib that target the molecular basis of the disease and this has become the paradigm to develop novel targeted agents for all leukaemias.

Although there has been significant progress, such that some are now curable, the outcome can be dismal for those patients who do not respond to standard therapy. Work remains to be done to understand the molecular basis for lymphoma, leukaemia and myeloma, to identify targets for novel targeted therapies and to identify biomarkers of prognosis and response to treatment.

What we do
  • We have groups of investigators working on acute and chronic leukaemias, non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, Hodgkin’s lymphoma, and multiple myeloma
  • We are investigating the genetic changes involved in the development of leukaemias and lymphomas and their progression and transformation to more aggressive types
  • We are studying the fundamental biology of normal haematopoiesis, ageing and stem cell biology and investigating the mechanisms that become dysregulated in blood cancers
  • We are focusing on the identification of the cancer-initiating or stem cell that gives rise to these cancers
  • We are exploring how cancer cells interact with their microenvironment in order to find ways to exploit this communication
  • We are investigating the mechanism of action of novel agents to identify and optimise new treatment approaches, including immunotherapy and novel targeted treatment approaches in clinical trials
  • We are developing strategies to improve the efficacy of stem cell transplantation especially for patients with high risk disease
  • We have access to a large repository of patients’ leukaemia, lymphoma and myeloma biospecimens that are linked to the clinical outcome of these patients.
Click on the links below to find out which researchers are working on:
Major Funders
  • Cancer Research UK
  • Bloodwise
  • Kay Kendall Leukaemia Fund
  • Medical Research Council
  • Wellcome Trust
  • US NIH
Key Publications