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Investigating and correcting immune system defects in Chronic Lymphocytic Leukaemia (CLL)

  • Researcher: Professor Fabienne Mackay
  • Institution: Monash University, Melbourne, Australia
  • Award Amount: £192,070 for 3 years from January 2014
  • Cancer Type: Leukaemia
Investigating and correcting immune system defects in Chronic Lymphocytic Leukaemia (CLL)
Chronic Lymphocytic Leukaemia (CLL) is the most common leukaemia in adults and currently has no cure. As leukaemia affects the white blood cells, which fight off infections, patients with CLL have a compromised immune system and suffer from recurrent infections, which can end up being fatal. It is therefore important to understand exactly how the immune system is compromised, in order to try to boost it in these people. Professor Mackay has identified two novel immune defects in patients with CLL, which she has replicated in a mouse model of the disease established in her laboratory. Together these defects lead to a suppressed immune system but via two distinct mechanisms. One of the defects encourages molecules which are immune-suppressive while the other causes defects in immune system cells that normally fight infection. Professor Mackay believes these defects are key to disease progression. She is now using his Worldwide Cancer Research grant to prove that reversing these defects could help boost patient's immune systems and anti-cancer defences. She will be using mouse models and human CLL tissue samples and hopes her findings could have a positive impact on CLL treatments in the future, benefitting many patients.
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