Precision medicines in the treatment of lymphoma and leukaemia

Examining therapies that target particular cancer-causing mutations in lymphoma and leukaemia and testing them in combination to ensure maximum efficacy with minimal side effects.

Cancers are caused by mutations in a cell’s DNA which enable the cell to divide indefinitely. Mutations that cause cancers are broad and vary not only between the different cancer types but also within the same type of cancer and in fact, even within the same tumour.

Precision medicines are drugs that target specific characteristics that cause the particular cancer. The patient’s cancer can be classified by looking at the DNA of their tumour and identifying mutations which drive their cancer. From this, the precision medicine, best to treat the patient can be decided. This then in theory will only target the cancer as opposed to other cancer treatments like chemotherapy which can affect the whole body causing side effects. However sometimes the cancer will evolve so the precision treatment is no longer effective which causes the cancer to come back. Precision therapies and the classification of a patient’s cancer is currently not clinical routine and there is still more work to be done though there are numerous precision medicines in testing stages.

This project will focus on different types of blood cancer (leukaemia and lymphoma). They will assess which precision medicines are most effective against tumours with certain mutations. They will also look at understanding why resistance occurs, and how we can overcome resistance. From this it is hoped that these precision medicines will be able to be combined so that they are at their most effective without causing side effects and preventing the cancers from developing resistance to the treatment, thus preventing relapse.

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Targeted therapies