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Cancer Research UK Programme Foundation Award

Posted on 16 March 2021

Dr David Kent was recently awarded a Cancer Research UK Programme Foundation Award of £1.5 million over six years to continue his research on blood cancers.

Blood stem cells are responsible for the daily production of trillions of blood cells every day and humans have between 50,000 and 200,000. In cancers, a single blood stem cell acquires genetic mutations that allow it to "take over" the entire blood system, outcompeting all of the normal stem cells and driving disease. Image by Juan Rubio-Lara, Kent Group.

Dr Kent's programme of work uses powerful new clonal tracking approaches to study the earliest stages of cancer evolution. It will map the normal blood forming system to unprecedented resolution, establishing the relatedness of stem cells to each other and their mature cell progeny, and be further enhanced by a thorough examination of the intrinsic and extrinsic drivers of clonal competition in patients. 

The research spans both mouse and human blood stem cell biology, aiming to deliver a more refined understanding of how stem cell clones compete throughout ageing, stress, and disease. Overall, this programme will deliver unique datasets in mouse blood stem cell biology and patients with bone marrow failure which will shape our understanding of how stem cell clones compete to drive cancer.  The project may also identify novel targets for therapeutic development and/or potential diagnostic/prognostic biomarkers in bone marrow failure disorders that lead to leukaemia. 

This CR-UK funded project will be enhanced through collaborations with world leaders in genomic medicine (Peter Campbell, Wellcome Sanger Institute) and haematological malignancies (Alan Warren, University of Cambridge) and local York collaborations in Haematology with Ian Hitchcock, Katherine Bridge, and Eve Roman/Alex Smith (Haematological Malignancy Research Network).