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Groundbreaking study hopes to change the landscape of blood cancer treatment

Posted on 7 June 2024

York researchers at the Centre for Blood Research (CBR) are crowdfunding for a crucial study to advance our understanding and develop kinder treatments for a rare group of blood cancers.

Katherine Bridge is stood inside a lab wearing a lab coat and squeezing something into a test tube using a pipette

The Need for Research

Around 4,000 people annually in the UK are affected by a rare and complex group of blood cancers known as myeloproliferative neoplasms (MPNs). While many patients live with MPNs for years without severe illness, a subset of these cancers can transform into a more aggressive and life-threatening condition. Understanding how they develop is crucial to finding better treatments and potentially saving lives.

About the study

Led by the Centre for Blood Research at the University, which launched in 2023, the study is driven by a team of five female early career researchers and clinicians, each passionately committed to transforming cancer treatment. 


Dr. Katherine Bridge, the study's Principal Investigator, brings a personal motivation to this mission:

"Watching my Uncle Mike endure chemotherapy and a failed bone marrow transplant opened my eyes to the reality of what treatment is like for people with blood cancer. I started my own lab researching blood cancer in the same year that he passed away from a treatment-related infection. I'm determined and convinced that science and medicine can and will do better, to develop smarter, kinder therapies for people with cancer for the future.”

The study is in collaboration with York and Scarborough Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust. Participants generously donate additional blood samples, providing essential data for the research team which can be studied to better understand how these cancers start, develop and can be treated more effectively.

The power of philanthropy

The Centre for Blood Research, which was launched in 2023, has quickly become a beacon of hope thanks to the philanthropic support of organisations such as Blood Cancer UK, Cancer Research UK, the Kay Kendall Leukaemia Fund, and Leukaemia UK. These partnerships have been instrumental in propelling the Centre's mission to improve the lives of the 40,000 people diagnosed with blood cancers and disorders annually.

A pivotal moment for the Centre was the acquisition of a specialised cell sorter, which was  the first of its kind in the UK. This state-of-the-art equipment, funded by a generous grant from the Sir Jules Thorn Charitable Trust, has already catalysed numerous research collaborations and breakthroughs. The impact has also benefited other University departments such as the Hull York Medical School, the School of Physics, Engineering and Technology, and the Department of Chemistry. Support from the trust has also facilitated the hiring of a research nurse, vital to launching the study.

Crowdfunding for change

The study comes at a critical juncture in improving the lives of those affected by blood cancer. Being primarily funded by goodwill, Katherine and the team have set up a YuStart page to crowdfund for the study. The money raised will go towards the practicalities of collecting blood samples for the study, working with and supporting local support groups for people with blood cancer, widening access to research careers for underrepresented and minority groups, with a view to building a one-of-a-kind, fully integrative research project in York and Yorkshire.

Support the fundraiser