The Sussex Cancer Fund is delighted to announce they are supporting a new research project that aims to get a better understanding into Acute Myeloid Leukemia. Sussex Cancer Fund has pledged 50% funding for Dr. Hyun Park, Clinical Research Fellow in Haematology to carry out the project at the Brighton & Sussex Medical School. The remaining funding has been matched by University Hospitals Sussex NHS Foundation Trust.
Acute Myeloid Leukaemia (AML) is an extremely aggressive form of blood cancer, which unfortunately affects more than 3,000 new patients each year, with the incidence rising. Despite significant advances in our knowledge in the mechanisms that contribute to AML, the standard of care for our patients have not drastically changed in several decades. Overall, 5-year survival rates remain at around 20%, which necessitates continued effort to identify novel treatment options.
The project will focus on a particular gene, DNMT3A, which is involved in a process called methylation and is an important regulator of gene expression. DNMT3A is extremely prevalent in AML, and cells harbouring this mutation can be found long before AML emerges clinically, suggesting that it is a ‘founder mutation’ in which further acquisition of mutations leads to leukaemic transformation. Together with the fact that DNMT3A is associated with a poor prognosis, makes it an attractive target for therapy. The project hopes to expand on the previous work in Professor Tim Chevassut’s lab, which has identified potential compounds that need to be further explored in an AML context. The initial phase of the project will be working with viruses to recapitulate the DNMT3A mutations that occur in immortalised AML cell lines, before assessing the efficacy of compounds of interest. The team also hopes to further investigate signalling pathways that DNMT3A mutations may be involved in that contributes to cancer formation.
Who is involved
The research will be conducted by Dr. Hyun Park, who is a Clinical Research Fellow in Haematology at Brighton & Sussex Medical School. The project will be supervised in collaboration between Professor Tim Chevassut (Brighton & Sussex Medical School) and Dr. Rhys Morgan (School of Life Sciences, University of Sussex), who both have expertise in AML.
Hyun developed an interest in Haematology whilst studying Medicine at Imperial College School of Medicine, which prompted him to pursue an intercalated BSc in Medical Sciences with Haematology. Interactions with patients suffering from leukaemia in the clinical setting also inspired Hyun to gain a deeper understanding of translational research, the process of bringing applicable findings from the lab to benefit patients. He is currently working towards a Medical Doctorate (M.D.) following completion of his Foundation Training in Brighton.
During the project, Hyun will also be supporting Haemato-Oncology clinical trials currently underway at the Clinical Investigation and Research Unit (CIRU) based at the Royal Sussex County Hospital, which will allow him to gain important and clinically relevant skills in his medical training.
Dr Park said ‘I am extremely grateful to the Sussex Cancer Fund for supporting this project, and I am excited to be working with some amazing researchers with a unified goal of improving the lives of our patients suffering from AML’.
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