Salisbury leads the way in blood cancer research

June 17, 2007 (PRLEAP.COM) Health News
Salisbury-based scientists have won further funding to build on the success of the only database of its kind in the UK, which is bringing new hope for patients fighting multiple myeloma, an aggressive blood cancer.

Dr Fiona Ross and her Leukaemia Research-funded team based at Salisbury District Hospital are building the UK’s largest database of genetic material from patients with multiple myeloma, a blood cancer caused by the uncontrolled production of blood cells called plasma, in bone marrow. Further funding of over £1.2million from Leukaemia Research will allow the Salisbury researchers to continue to unravel the secrets of one of the least understood blood cancers.

Dr Ross said: “Multiple myeloma is very vicious and has a poor prognosis. It’s very difficult to successfully treat patients despite significant recent advances in understanding how the disease develops. Our work involves collecting blood samples from a nationwide clinical trial on myeloma patients, and using state of the art molecular techniques to look at the different genetic changes involved in multiple myeloma.

“We have already identified strong links between five genetic changes that are found in patients and their subsequent response to treatment, and this knowledge may have a key influence on the therapy given to patients in the future. We expect to find more genetic alterations that help us to both understand the cause of myeloma and guide new strategies for treatment.”

Dr Ross’s team will also be trying to find out the key genetic changes involved in ‘monoclonal gammopathy of unknown significance’ (MGUS), a condition related to myeloma where some genes are abnormally copied or deleted. 3% of people aged 50 or above are diagnosed with MGUS, and one percent of MGUS patients go on to develop myeloma. The Salisbury scientists are hoping to find a way of predicting which of these patients are at greater risk of developing the cancer.

Leukaemia Research’s Scientific Director Dr David Grant said: “Our Salisbury team is leading the field in the genetic study of myeloma. We have high hopes that their analysis of the massive collection of patient data will soon be having an equally large effect on the choices of treatment given to patients in the UK and beyond.”

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14 June 2007

For further information, please contact Gary Hartley at Leukaemia Research Press Office on 020 7269 9019.

Notes for Editors:

1. Leukaemia Research is the largest funder of research into myeloma and has a total of £5.2m invested in 19 myeloma projects around the UK.

2. Over the next five years, Leukaemia Research urgently needs to raise over £100million to commit to new research. From basic laboratory research to clinical trials with patients, Leukaemia Research is committed to saving lives by funding high quality, carefully selected research throughout the UK.

3. Leukaemia Research is the only national charity devoted exclusively to improving treatments, finding cures and learning how to prevent leukaemia, Hodgkin's lymphoma and other lymphomas, myeloma and the related blood disorders, diagnosed in 24,500 people in the UK every year. Further information, including patient information booklets, is available from or call 020 7405 0101