Dr Samanta Mariani, University of Edinburgh and Leukaemia UK John Goldman Fellow 2021

Dr Samanta Mariani will investigate the role of leukaemia-associated immune cells called macrophages in chemotherapy-resistant cells in cases of infant leukaemia.

Leukaemia is one of the deadliest cancers, with an overall UK survival rate of just over 50 per cent (2013-2017). Children are particularly vulnerable to the disease, with it accounting for 33 per cent of all cancers in the under 14s.

New research suggests that these immune cells called macrophages can change during leukaemia, helping the cancerous blood cells survive chemotherapy treatment. Targeting these cells could therefore lead to better responses to chemotherapy treatments. Dr Mariani’s research will look at these macrophages in infant leukaemia to see if they have a significant role in the onset or progression of the disease, helping lead to better and more targeted treatments.

“Acute leukaemias, the most common in infants and children, are difficult to treat. Chemotherapy is only able to eradicate the disease in half of infant cases. There is a critical need to understand what happens in the early stages of leukaemia’s development to better target the progression of the disease.”

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With blood cancer being the third biggest cancer killer in the UK, we strive to find better treatments and care to make a difference to those affected by leukaemia and other blood cancers.

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