University of Leicester research committed to moving away from ‘toxic’ chemotherapy

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Research to be showcased at the Rik Basra ‘Pass It On’ event in the Students’ Union on Thursday 24 September

Issued by University of Leicester Press Office on 22 September 2015

Photo/ media opportunity: 11am on Thursday 24 September, Professor Paul Boyle, President and Vice-Chancellor and University researchers with Rik Basra and the Pass It On flag in the University of Leicester Students’ Union building, To confirm attendance contact: er134@le.ac.uk

As the University of Leicester prepares to host its event on Thursday 24 September as part of cancer survivor Rik Basra’s ‘Pass It On’ campaign, academics will showcase their research and explain what they are doing to pave the way for new leukaemia treatments in the future.

Blood cancers affect 38,000 people every year in the UK, from children to the elderly, and common treatments are chemotherapy, radiotherapy and, in some cases, a stem cell or bone marrow transplant.

The month-long drive across the county, spearheaded by former Leicestershire Police officer Rik and his wife Kas, hopes to recruit people to boost the national database of stem cell donors, run by the charity Anthony Nolan.

The event at the newly refurbished University of Leicester Students’ Union will feature live music and comedy performances as well as a talk by researchers from the University’s Ernest and Helen Scott Haematological Research Institute which is funded by the Waudby-Scott Trust.

The Institute, led by Professor Martin Dyer and Professor Simon Wagner, brings together clinicians from the Leicester Royal Infirmary and University researchers to understand how blood cancers in adults develop and most importantly to develop and assess novel therapeutics with less toxicity.

Out of the 137 types of blood cancer, the Institute focuses on Chronic Lymphocytic Leukaemia and Diffuse Large B-cell Lymphoma but is also involved in projects which look at Acute Myeloid Leukaemia and T-cell lymphoma.

Dr Sandrine Jayne, Manager of the Ernest and Helen Scott Haematological Research Institute, said: “What drives us is the prospect of personalised medicine: defining for each patient precision medicines of maximal efficacy and minimal toxicity.  We are developing and assessing new therapeutics, targeting specifically the tumour cells to increase chances of success and avoid toxicities seen when using chemotherapies. We are also studying basic aspect of cancer biology by investigating the role of some proteins and pathways.”

Rik said: “We are delighted that the University of Leicester is involved in the ‘Pass It On’ campaign, particularly because of the extensive and valuable research they do looking at possible future treatments of blood cancers and the work carried out by the Leicester Marrow Society in raising awareness and encouraging people to sign up to the register.” 

Professor Paul Boyle, President and Vice-Chancellor of the University, said: “We are proud to be supporting the Rik Basra Leukaemia campaign and taking part in what has been an amazing month of activities so far. This is also a great opportunity to showcase the important research carried out by the Ernest and Helen Scott Haematological Research Institute here at Leicester.”

Professor Martin Dyer, Professor of Haemato-Oncology and Honorary Consultant Physician, Department of Haematology and Director of the Ernest and Helen Scott Haematological Research Institute, added: “We think that stem cell transplant will still be a treatment choice in the future and methodologies have greatly being refined in recent years. Therefore it is important that charities like Anthony Nolan or members of the public like Rik Basra raise awareness to all communities to register and provide a lifesaving treatment.”

The event, which runs from 11.00am to 4.00pm, on Thursday 24 September will be held in the University of Leicester’s Students’ Union and will feature a whole host of live music, comedians and art.

The University’s student society, Leicester Marrow, will be on hand to provide information and sign people up to the Anthony Nolan donor register on the day. Anyone aged 16-30 who is in good health can join the UK register.

For the full line-up visit: http://www.leicesterunion.com/articles/save-a-life-at-pass-it-on

Ends

Notes to editors

To arrange interviews contact: er134@le.ac.uk

About The Ernest and Helen Scott Haematological Research Institute: http://www2.le.ac.uk/departments/csmm/research/the-ernest-and-helen-scott-haematological-research-institute

About Anthony Nolan: http://www.anthonynolan.org/

About Rik Basra: http://rikbasra.com/

About Leicester Marrow: http://www.leicestermarrow.co.uk/who-we-are/4586514767

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