Uni profs out to beat cancer

GLASGOW uni scientists are looking to create a drug to combat cancer cells.

Professor William Cushley and professor Brad Ozanne are investigating how the blood cancer leukaemia develops in the bone marrow.

Now, professor Cushley, professor of molecular immunology in the School of Life Sciences, and professor Ozanne, honorary associate of the Institute of Molecular Cell and Systems Biology, have been granted £115,000 for a two-year project by the blood cancer charity Leukaemia and Lymphoma Research.

The scientists are looking into how acute lymphoblastic leukaemia (ALL), the most common form of cancer in children, spreads in the blood.

ALL reveals itself through an uncontrolable multiplication of mutated white blood cells in the bone marrow which crowd out healthy blood cells.

Specifically, the professors will investigate how receptor molecules on the surface of leukaemia cells interact and bind with other cells.

Instead of having a natural life cycle as all cells do, these molecules tell the leukaemia cells to replicate and quickly build up in the blood.

If the team can track how the molecules’ signals connect with those of other cells, they can then investigate how to intercept or block them , thus preventing the cancer from spreading.

Although survival rates for treatment in children are good, only 40 per cent of adults are cured.

Prossor Cushley said: “ALL is one of the most aggressive forms of blood cancer and patients need treatment as soon as it is diagnosed.

“By investigating how signalling between leukaemis cells causes them to multiply, we can develop new treatments that stop the cancer spreading and grealty improve patients’ long-term outlooks”.

Dr David Grant, Scientific Director at Leukaemia and Lymphoma Research, said: “We are committed to funding the most exciting projects that will help us beat blood cancer.

“This fresearch will give us a vital insight into how this form of cancer spreads and will provide a basis for further important studies and treatment”.