Research published in Nature has revealed that adult humans have many more blood-creating stem cells in their bone marrow than previously thought, ranging between 50,000 and 200,000 stem cells. Haematological Malignancies Programme researchers based at the Wellcome Sanger Institute and Wellcome – MRC Cambridge Stem Cell Institute developed a new approach for studying stem cells, based on methods used in ecology. Programme member and joint senior author Dr David Kent said: “This new approach is hugely flexible. Not only can we measure how many stem cells exist, we can also see how related they are to each other and what types of blood cells they produce. Applying this technique to samples from patients with blood cancers, we should now be able to learn how single cells outcompete normal cells to expand their numbers and drive a cancer. As the cost of genomic sequencing comes down, it is transforming scientific research such that studies previously thought to be impossibly large, are now becoming routine. It is a very exciting time to be working in this space.”
September is Blood Cancer Awareness Month and throughout the month we will be posting updates from our programme on our Twitter account including latest research and publications, and a chance to find out more about some of our programme members. Follow us @CRUKCamHaem to find out more.
The Cambridge Lymphoma Biology International Symposium took place from the 17th – 18th July in the historic setting of St John’s College, co-chaired by Programme members Dr Dan Hodson and Dr Ingo Ringshausen. The symposium brought together the European Lymphoma community at the biggest research focussed lymphoma conference in Europe with 130 researchers, clinicians, staff and students attending from 28 countries. Talks focused on work from leading labs working on Lymphoma and Chronic Lymphocytic Leukaemia (CLL) with the plenary talk given by Klaus Rejewsky from the Max Delbrück Center in Berlin. The Dennis-Cook poster prize was awarded jointly to Rebecca Caeser (University of Cambridge) and Rita Barbosa (Francis Crick Institute). The event also incorporated the Third Cancer Core Europe Lymphoma Meeting. The symposium was supported by CRUK, the British Society for Haematology, Lonza, Miltenyi and Pan Biotech.
An international team of researchers have found that patients with Acute Myeloid Leukaemia (AML) had genetic changes in their blood years before they suddenly developed the disease. The study, published in the journal Nature, found that blood tests looking for changes in the DNA code can reveal the roots of AML in healthy people. Haematological Malignancies Programme Member Dr George Vassiliou, one of the joint leaders on the study said: “Our study provides for the first time evidence that we can identify people at risk of developing AML many years before they actually develop this life-threatening disease. We hope to build on these findings to develop robust screening tests for identifying those at risk and drive research into how to prevent or stall progression towards AML. Our aspiration is that one day AML prevention would provide a compelling alternative to treatment.”
Scientists have discovered the first leukaemia protective gene that is specific to the male-only Y chromosome. In a study led by Haematological Malignancies Programme Lead Professor Brian Huntly and Haematological Malignancies Programme Member Dr George Vassiliou, researchers found that this Y-chromosome gene protects against the development of Acute Myeloid Leukaemia (AML) and other cancers.
The 6th Cambridge International Stem Cell Symposium will bring together biological, clinical and physical stem cell scientists, working across multiple tissues and at different scales, to share data, discuss ideas and address the biggest fundamental and translational questions in stem cell biology.