Myelofibrosis is a fatal bone marrow cancer. The disease is caused by excessive secretion of factors by cancerous platelet-producing cells called megakaryocytes.  These secretions cause the replacement of normal bone marrow tissue with fibrous scar tissue.

Dr Chen’s team can successfully recreate this pathological bone marrow environment in the laboratory, and their preliminary research data shows that reduced levels of a protein complex called FANCcore leads to more myelofibrosis.

Dr Chen’s team hypothesise that loss of the protein complex FANCcore increases the growth of myelfibrosis by altering megakaryocytes. Dr Chen uses both human tissue cultures and mouse models to examine the cellular and molecular changes to megakaryocytes following the absence of the FANCcore complex and to understand how these changes cause myelofibrosis.

The team hopes that by focusing on the role of FANCcore in megakaryocyte biology, they can reveal new ways to treat myelofibrosis.

As a student, I attended a session entitled just “STI-571” - at the time it was just a series of letters and numbers to me. But I now know it as the compound, Imatinib, that has revolutionised the treatment of patients with Chronic Myeloid Leukaemia (CML). This was when I decided I wanted to be a part of blood cancer research. It’s a perfect blend of academic and translational research that gives me the ability to improve patient care.

Dr Edwin Chen