Manchester scientists receive £1.8 million for cancer research

07 Jan 2014

Scientists at The University of Manchester have been awarded a £1.8 million grant by the blood cancer charity Leukaemia and Lymphoma Research, to improve treatments for leukaemia patients.

Leukaemia cells
Leukaemia cells

Professor Tony Whetton will lead the five year project which aims to develop new treatments that are more effective at seeking out and destroying leukaemia cells.

Leukaemia is a blood cancer in which patients produce large amounts of abnormal white blood cells that accumulate in the bone marrow and hinder the production of other important blood cells.

Faulty versions of proteins known as tyrosine kinases can drive a number of leukaemias, such as chronic myeloid leukaemia (CML) and myeloproliferative neoplasms (MPNs). Drugs that target these proteins, tyrosine kinase inhibitors, are often very effective at controlling these diseases but do not offer a cure, in addition not all patients respond.  

Professor Whetton, Vice Dean of the Faculty of Medical and Human Sciences and Professor of Cancer Cell Biology at The University of Manchester – part of Manchester Cancer Research Centre, said: “Whilst DNA is the blueprint of the cell, proteins are the work horses involved in the control of all cellular processes. Disruption of these proteins and their networks leads to many diseases including leukaemia.”

“Through the large scale study of proteins over the last 10 years we have shown particular processes are common to many types of leukaemia. Our present research is aimed at further understanding these pathways and investigating how we may target them more effectively with drugs.”

Dr Matt Kaiser, Head of Research at Leukaemia and Lymphoma Research, said: “The development of tyrosine kinase inhibitors over the last decade has revolutionised the treatment of CML and has rightly been held up as an exemplar of targeted cancer therapy. Nevertheless, these drugs often only control the disease, if at all, and may bring some side effects. Findings from this research could help to improve the treatment of a number of leukaemias, giving more patients the chance of a life-long cure.”


Notes for editors

For further information, please contact Adam Orr at Leukaemia and Lymphoma Research Press Office on 020 7504 2251, press mobile 07824 375880, or email: or Alison Barbuti | Media Relations Officer | Faculty of Medical and Human Sciences |The University of Manchester | Manchester Academic Health Sciences Centre (MAHSC)
Tel. +44 (0)161 275 8383 | Mobile 07887 561 318 |Email:

Leukaemia and Lymphoma Research is dedicated to saving the lives of blood cancer patients through the promotion and assistance of research into causes, diagnosis and treatment. We are committed to advancing the interests of patients and increasing public understanding of blood cancers.

Around 30,000 people of all ages, from children and teenagers to adults are diagnosed with blood cancers like leukaemia, lymphoma and myeloma in the UK every year.

We receive no government funding and rely entirely on voluntary support. In the next five years we need to raise £120 million to continue our lifesaving work. Further information, including patient information booklets, is available from or on 020 7405 0101.