Dr William Grey, University of York and Leukaemia UK John Goldman Fellow

Dr William Grey will be looking at how to attack the origin of leukaemia by stopping the protein production in the leukaemic stem cells.

“Treatment options for acute myeloid leukaemia (AML) have remained largely unchanged in the last 30 years, with good initial response to therapy, but high rates of relapse and poor overall survival. One of the key problems with current therapy is the inability to deplete leukaemic stem cells, the cells which are at the origin of leukaemia in the body. These cells are highly resistant to therapy and are the origins of relapse and ultimately the root cause of poor prognosis in AML.

In this fellowship I will investigate specific targeting of leukaemic stem cells, leveraging an Achilles heel in their protein turnover machinery. In combination with newly available medicines, I aim to improve treatment options for the most elderly and at-risk AML patients.”

Acute myeloid leukaemia (AML) is a cancer of the blood and bone marrow. It is the most common type of acute leukaemia in adults. Current treatments are harsh on the body and usually involve an intensive course of chemotherapy followed by a stem cell transplant. The relapse rates following stem cell transplants are high and AML is one of the most deadly forms of blood cancer. It is particularly prevalent in the over 75s, with 38% of all new diagnoses occurring in this age group.

Further research is vital to improve survival rates as well as the quality of life for those who receive this devastating diagnosis. By specific targeting of leukaemic stem cells, Dr Grey’s research will hope to lead to more targeted and kinder treatments for AML.

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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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