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Our research impact

Our researchers are making the discoveries that will have a positive impact on the lives of people with blood cancer.

1961

We begin to fund research in childhood leukaemia

The Eastwood family open the first childhood leukaemia research unit at Great Ormond Street Hospital.

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1980

New test identifies children with leukaemia who may need additional treatment

Blood Cancer UK co-fund research into a test, now used worldwide, that pinpoints children who are at risk of their leukaemia returning after chemotherapy, helping doctors decide whether or not they need more treatment, boosting their chances of survival.

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1990

Identification of a test which can predict whether leukaemia will return

Professor David Grimwade uses the MRD (minimal residual disease) test to identify people with acute promyelocytic leukaemia (APL) who are at risk of their leukaemia returning. The test is now used across the globe.

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1994

Making treatments kinder for children with leukaemia

Dr Lynne Lennard and Professor Sir John Lilleyman develop a test, now used worldwide, to identify a genetic change which can mean some people have a more severe side effects to chemotherapy, or may respond to the treatment at all. This now prevents children from enduring harsh side effects from treatment.

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1997

Improved diagnosis of a rare type of lymphoma leads to better outlook for patients

Anaplastic large cell lymphoma (ALCL) is a rare form of non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma that was frequently misdiagnosed and not treated correctly. Professor David Mason finds a way to recognise ALCL cells which leads to huge improvements in diagnosis, helping to boost survival rates.

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2005

Breakthrough in blood cancer diagnosis

Professor Anthony Green finds that many people with MPN, types of blood cancer that can be difficult to diagnose, have an error in a gene called JAK2. He develops a test, now used worldwide, to detect this, leading to huge improvements in diagnosis and patient care.

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2007

Identification of a new genetic error in childhood leukaemia

Research led by Professor Christine Harrison identify a genetic change in some cases of childhood acute lymphoblastic leukaemia (ALL) that is linked to a very poor outlook. Now, children known to carry this change receive more intensive therapy, helping to boost survival rates.

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2015

New immunotherapy approved to treat chronic lymphocytic leukaemia

Thanks to research by Professor Martin Glennie, Professor Mark Cragg and Professor Stephen Beers, obinutuzumab is licensed for us in England as an initial treatment for chronic lymphocytic leukaemia alongside chemotherapy, and later is approved as for follicular lymphoma.

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2017

Predicting how blood cancers will behave

Professor Duncan Baird at Cardiff University develops a test that can predict how the diseases myeloma and MDS will behave by measuring the length of ‘telomeres’ – pieces of DNA that protect a cell’s genetic instruction manual. This helps guide treatment decisions.

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2018

Sparing people with chronic myeloid leukaemia from lifelong treatment

The DESTINY trial, led by Professor Richard Clark found that people with CML, who previously had to take lifelong medication, may be able to safely come off treatment and remain free from cancer. This can significantly improve their quality of life.

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2019

A new drug combination for chronic lymphocytic leukaemia (CLL) offers a chemotherapy free treatment

The final results from the CLARITY trial, headed by Professor Peter Hillmen, show that a combination of two drugs could be a highly effective at treating people with CLL which has returned or got worse. Nine in ten of people on the trial responded well to treatment, prolonging the time before their disease got worse and improving their survival.

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