A systematic approach towards three types of blood cancer

Blood cancer is an umbrella term, encompassing different types of blood malignancies that affect a large European population – over 100,000 people are diagnosed each year. EDITOR will focus on improving early detection and intervention for three different type of cancers: monoclonal gammopathies, leukaemia and lymphoma. Our approach combines patient samples with the latest bioinformatic tools to find new endpoints to improve treatment efficacy.

Monoclonal gammopathies are a set of diseases defined by the presence of a monoclonal protein in blood and/or urine and proliferation of plasmatic cells on bone marrow. Patients suffering from monoclonal gammopathy are at risk of developing Multiple Myeloma, a type of plasma cells cancer, or Amyloidosis, a group of disease in which abnormal proteins build up in body tissue.

The goal

  • Determine the characteristics of pre-malignant plasma cells in individuals at risk of developing multiple myeloma and amyloidosis.

  • Understand the role of minimal residual disease and the immune system in disease outcome.

  • Develop mouse models that mimic the early stages of the disease.

To do this, the project aims to analyse pre-malignant plasma cells in healthy individuals and define their cellular and molecular characteristics

The term leukaemia comprehends a group of blood cancers that usually begin in the bone marrow and result in high numbers of abnormal blood cells.

EDITOR will focus on two types of leukemic blood cancers that affect the immature cells within the bone marrow: myelodysplastic syndromes (MDS) and acute myeloid leukaemia (AML).

The goal

  • Understand the multistep process leading from clonal haematopoiesis to MDS and AML.

  • Define the role of the immune system in these diseases.

  • Characterise treatment-resistant cells to understand clinical responses

In order to achieve this, the project will identify molecular events involved in the premalignant states, characterising the genetic and epigenetic architecture the malignancies. Altogether, this will help identify molecular biomarkers and new targets, that will be validated in mice models.

EDITOR will focus on Follicular Lymphoma (FL) – FL is a systemic indolent neoplasm of the lymphoid tissue and represents 20-25% of all new non-Hodgkin lymphoma (NHL) diagnoses. FL is considered incurable and is preceded by an asymptomatic preclinical phase in which premalignant B cells carrying a t(14;18) chromosomal translocation accumulate additional genetic alterations.

The goals:

  • Characterise the FL cells that persist after treatment and are responsible for the initiation and relapse of disease.

  • Identify molecular and immune profiles in FL patients’ cancers that may act as predictors of disease progression.

  • Develop mouse models that mimic the early stages of the disease.