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Research Focus: Mapping drug targets in aggressive non-Hodgkin lymphoma

B-cell non-Hodgkin lymphoma (B-NHL) are a group of aggressive cancers with approximately 80 new cases per year in the UK.

Lead investigator: Dr Vikki Rand, Newcastle University
Funded by the Little Princess Trust in partnership with CCLG
Awarded January 2019

Award: £104,545

B-cell non-Hodgkin lymphoma (B-NHL) are a group of aggressive cancers with approximately 80 new cases per year in the UK.

Whilst children with B-cell non-Hodgkin (B-NHL) have a good chance of cure, this cure comes at a cost. Treatment is often harmful in both the short and long-term, and there is a profound disruption to normal childhood and development. In addition, despite receiving the most aggressive therapy, some children cannot be cured. New and kinder treatments are urgently needed to improve the lives of children diagnosed with this disease.

The purpose of this study is to identify new therapeutic targets through better understanding of the biology of aggressive B-NHL. Using a combination of cutting-edge techniques we are fully characterising the genomes of the largest cohort of UK B-NHL cases (n=120) and have identified abnormalities associated with both a poor and good outcome.

However, the underlying genes and therapeutic targets remain elusive. In this study, we will use an integrated approach to pinpoint and validate the mutations and dysregulated genes associated with patient outcome and disease progression. We will investigate the underlying mechanism(s) of disease progression and therapy resistance through whole-genome sequencing of relapse cases to further pinpoint the drivers of chemotherapy resistance.

The key outcome of this study is to establish a precise map of ‘druggable’ abnormalities associated with good and poor outcome, and identify the Achilles Heel of relapsed disease. Our ultimate goal is to determine whether the genes identified have the potential to be developed further as targets for kinder and more effective therapies for children diagnosed with aggressive lymphoma.

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The MBE for volunteer groups, awarded to The Little Princess Trust by Her Majesty The Queen.