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The University of Southampton

University of Southampton unveiled as Centre of Excellence in blood cancer research

Published: 24 May 2010

The University of Southampton was today named (Monday, 24 May) as a Centre of Excellence by the national blood cancer charity Leukaemia & Lymphoma Research. The charity has over £7 million currently invested in research projects at the Centre. It has been recognised for its world-class research into all of the main blood cancers – leukaemia, lymphoma and myeloma.

Groundbreaking projects at Southampton include research programmes creating ‘DNA vaccines’ for leukaemia and myeloma patients that manipulate the patient’s own immune system to fight the cancer. New treatments such as these are likely to play an important role in the future in treating patients either at diagnosis, or who achieve remission with current treatments, but are then liable to relapse.

The unveiling of the Centre of Excellence, which is based at the University’s School of Medicine, is part of the charity’s plans to focus investment in leading research institutions across the UK.

Leukaemia & Lymphoma Research plans to unveil more Centres of Excellence and the University of Southampton is the second to be named. Southampton has been selected for its innovative research and clinical expertise, which are achieving remarkable results for blood cancer patients both locally and across the UK.

Blood cancers are diagnosed in 28,500 children, teenagers and adults in the UK every year and long-term survival rates remain low for many types of the disease. Leukaemia & Lymphoma Research currently has 15 research projects running in Southampton and Salisbury dedicated to improving diagnosis and treatments. These projects range from laboratory research into how different blood cancers develop to full clinical trials testing new treatments on patients.

Specific projects include state of the art genetic research looking at the genes responsible for causing a difficult to treat group of blood cancers called the myeloproliferative neoplasms, which affect around 3300 people in the UK every year.

Researchers work closely with doctors at Southampton General Hospital to ensure that any breakthroughs in diagnosis and treatment benefit local blood cancer patients as soon as possible. A groundbreaking trial which targets radiotherapy only to the cancer cells has been available to myeloma patients since 2008.

Cathy Gilman, Chief Executive of Leukaemia & Lymphoma Research, who attended the unveiling of the Southampton Centre of Excellence, said: "The University of Southampton has proven itself to be truly world class in its research into leukaemia, lymphoma and myeloma. Our scientists here are consistently helping to improve treatment and diagnosis for patients in Southampton and across the UK – it really is a ‘Centre of Excellence’.”

Professor Freda Stevenson, of the University of Southampton’s School of Medicine, said: “The research into blood cancer taking place here at the University of Southampton is very exciting. The concentration of expertise and resources has helped to foster collaboration and innovation and as a result the pace of progress in delivering new treatments for blood cancer has increased rapidly in recent years.”

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