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Meeting the research team funded by Ruby's fund

Last month, we got to meet the research team that have received a £100k grant from CCLG, funded through Ruby's fund. The team is led by Dr Lisa Russell (on the left in the photo below) with the role of Senior Research Technician Nefeli Karataraki (in the centre below and also in the adjacent photo) being fully funded through Ruby's fund. The new project - titled ‘Identifying critical interactions between super-enhancers and proto-oncogenes: driver events in T-cell acute lymphoblastic leukaemia’ - is looking into the genetic code to understand how the wrong genes are being instructed to switch on in patients with T-cell acute lymphoblastic leukaemia (TALL).

The genes found in the genetic code control cells, deciding what proteins are needed, when to multiply and other functions. They need instructions to know when they should be switched on or off in healthy cells, and these instructions are called ‘enhancers’. In some blood cancers, some of these enhancers move around within the genetic code, and end up instructing the wrong gene.

Dr Russell and her team at Newcastle University want to find out how these enhancers are communicating with the wrong genes to see whether there is a way to stop them. If doctors could administer medicines that stopped these enhancers from turning the wrong gene on, it could stop the cancer cells growing.

Dr Russell and her team plan to investigate a particular type of enhancer that has been found to be present in around 20% of patients with T-cell acute lymphoblastic leukaemia. Dr Russell explained: “This project has been developing and growing for a while now. As a team, we are all really excited to get this underway so we can begin to start answering all the questions we have.

“Our hope is that the new knowledge we gain about how these enhancers communicate with the wrong genes means we are better prepared to think of ways to target these cells and improve the outcome for patients with blood cancers. Enhancers are involved in many different blood cancers. The knowledge gained from this work has the potential to reach many different blood cancers and the people affected by these.

“With this new knowledge, we hope to prevent cancer cells from surviving.”

We hope to go and visit the team in Newcastle at some point in the next year and can't wait to hear about their progress. Ruby would be so happy to know that was being done in her memory!

Thank you to everyone for your support; the fundraising has been a huge team effort and it's thanks to all of you that this research is happening. ❤️

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