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Approved research

Investigating the myelodysplastic origins of Acute Myeloid leukaemia

Principal Investigator: Professor Chris Bunce
Approved Research ID: 49540
Approval date: July 30th 2019

Lay summary

We aim to find out if acute myeloid leukaemia (AML) is usually preceded by a period of abnormal blood production. If it is, this could be identified by a simple blood test allowing early intervention and improved patient outcome. Acute myeloid leukaemia (AML) affects all ages though predominantly older people. Leukaemias have three major effects on survival 1. Reduced red cell production leading to tiredness and breathlessness (anaemia). 2. Reduced blood platelet production and thus a great propensity to bleed. 3. Reduced white blood cell production and thus serious life threatening infections. AML causes these symptoms to develop rapidly bringing the individual to emergency medical attention within a period of a week or two. Their state rapidly worsens and without treatment most patients die from the leukaemia within two months. Treatment for AML is intensive chemotherapy that many older patients cannot tolerate for long enough or only in suboptimal amounts and consequently die within months. Cure rates in younger patients have improved and with new therapies most can be brought into a complete remission but less than half are cured. We know that a tenth of AML arises from a preceding condition called Myelodysplasia (MDS) that is often present for years before the MDS cancer cells rapidly become more malignant and transform into AML cells. MDS causes the same three main problems that AML causes but to a much lesser degree and in a state that remains stable for long periods