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Together we're investing £800K in vaccine efficacy research

26th May 2021

The Blood Cancer UK Vaccine Research Collaborative announces funding for a further eight research projects, worth £800K in total, that will look at covid vaccine effectiveness in people with blood cancer.

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Early data suggests that the coronavirus vaccines may not work as well for people with blood cancer. That's why there’s an urgent need to understand how much protection people get – so people who are protected can start to get back to normal and people who are not protected know they need to continue to be cautious.

The new research programme will look at vaccine effectiveness in people with acute lymphoblastic leukaemia, acute myeloid leukaemia, chronic myeloid leukaemia, lymphoma, myeloma, myelodysplastic syndromes, and myeloproliferative neoplasms.

How the research works

Researchers will take blood from people with blood cancer at several times to understand what their peak response to vaccination is, and how long this protection lasts. They will study people who have had either the AstraZeneca or Pfizer vaccines and will also compare the two.

Scientists will analyse both antibody and T cell response in these people to try and gather a full picture of how the immune systems of people with blood cancer respond to the covid vaccines.

Funding has been awarded to the following:

  • Professor Emma Morris (University College London) who will look at vaccine effectiveness in people blood cancers affecting B cells
  • Professor Andy Pettit (University of Liverpool) who will look at vaccine effectiveness in people with follicular lymphoma
  • Dr Simon Stanworth (University of Oxford) who will look at vaccine effectiveness in people with acute myeloid leukaemia
  • Dr Hugues de Lavalland (King’s College London) who will look at vaccine effectiveness in people with myeloproliferative neoplasms and chronic myeloid leukaemia
  • Dr Dragana Milojkovic (Imperial College London) who will look at vaccine effectiveness in people with chronic myeloid leukaemia
  • Dr Karthik Ramasamy (University of Oxford) who will look at vaccine effectiveness in people with myeloma
  • Dr Sheeba Irshad (King’s College London) who will look at vaccine effectiveness in people with myelodysplastic syndromes
  • Professor Peter Hillmen (University of Leeds) who will look at vaccine effectiveness in people with aplastic anaemia and paroxysmal nocturnal haemoglobinuria

Gemma Peters, Chief Executive of Blood Cancer UK, said: “We’re delighted to be funding this essential work for people with blood cancer. Alongside some other studies that are taking place, it now means that we will have answers about how the vaccines work for all people with blood cancer. This will help us understand how we can best protect our community.”

Henny Braund, Chief Executive of Anthony Nolan, said: “I’m proud that Anthony Nolan can contribute to this research partnership to help find answers, for blood cancer patients, about whether vaccines offer them the protection they need from Covid-19.

“As the UK looks to open up from the pandemic, patients need answers more than ever. We’ll continue to champion, and be there for patients, however they need us.”

Laura Kerby, Chief Executive of Myeloma UK, said: “This is an important step forward in finding answers for blood cancer patients and giving them a greater understanding of their ongoing levels of protection against COVID-19. The data collected from the whole research portfolio will make a huge difference to our collective understanding, and we are delighted that, within that, we have funded a dedicated study looking at vaccine response and need in myeloma patients.”

Professor Adele Fielding, President of the British Society for Haematology, said: “Patients with blood cancers have been prioritised for COVID vaccination, but detailed information on how well the vaccines work for them is completely lacking. I’m proud of how quickly the community has worked together to gather this information.”

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Fund vaccine research

People with blood cancer deserve the same answers about whether the vaccines work as the rest of the population.

Fund vaccine research

The following companies have provided funding for our research into Covid-19 vaccine efficacy but have had no further input: Bristol Myers Squibb, Gilead, Janssen, Roche, Takeda.