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Can MPN be cured?

People with myeloproliferative neoplasms require ongoing treatment to manage the disease which can cause severe side effects. Professor Tony Whetton is trying to create new treatments for this disease.

The challenge

We currently have several drugs that are able to control myeloproliferative neoplasms (MPN), but these can cause severe side effects like blood clots and uncontrolled bleeding. In some people, their MPN can change into an aggressive leukaemia, which is extremely hard to treat. Being able to cure MPN would greatly improve the outlook and quality of life for people with this disease.

The project

Professor Tony Whetton and his team are investigating MPN stem cells, the cells which produce all other MPN cells. Along with other research groups, the team have found a weakness in another type of cancerous stem cell which could be targeted by drugs, and these are now being tested in clinical trials. They think that these drugs may also be able to target MPN stem cells, and the group want to investigate this further. They have also identified drugs used in other diseases that could be used to treat MPN. Using drugs that are already in clinical trials for other diseases will help enormously in fast-tracking any potential treatment opportunities generated into the clinic.

The future

If the team are successful, their work could discover new drugs for MPN that cure rather than manage the disease, which could prevent people needing ongoing treatment and the prevent the side effects that go alongside this.