Leeds is the UK’s leading centre for research into Chronic Lymphocytic Leukaemia (CLL), with early stage and complex trials into treatments for the disease carried out within our facility. Our research also looks at treatments for myeloma, Waldenström's macroglobulinemia, low grade and aggressive lymphoma and myeloid malignancies including leukaemia, myelodysplastic syndromes and myeloproliferative neoplasms.
Much of our work is funded by the National Cancer Research Institute with additional support through medical charities and research councils. In addition many trials are commercially funded, working with companies such as Janssen, Celgene, Abbvie and Acerta.
Our team of researchers within haematology – and within the Haematological Malignancy Diagnostic Service – work at a national and international level in trial development. Our work has shaped trial design in the UK, for example, the pioneering use of minimal residual disease detection as an outcome measure in CLL and myeloma and performing the first international trial with real-time molecular profiling in the commonest aggressive B-cell lymphoma, diffuse large B-cell lymphoma.
We are one of the 13 UK centres chosen by the charity Bloodwise – formerly Leukaemia and Lymphoma Research – to take part in their Trial Acceleration Programme (TAP), which aims to speed up the clinical trial process and get new treatments to the right patients quicker.
As part of TAP, we run a consecutive trial programme in CLL, which allows a treatment shown to be the most effective in an early phase trial to move quickly to the next phase. This system also enables new treatments to be quickly slotted into a trial as they reach that stage of development.
Working closely with HMDS, we have developed an extended panel of markers within CLL, which enables us to define specific phenotypes for selection into trial programmes. We have also developed the ability to identify markers within blood cells – as opposed to the traditional markers that sit on the external membranes of cells – to provide more accurate prognosis. These techniques, alongside our use of minimal residual disease detection, allow us to improve patient selection, monitor patients effectively throughout the trial and provide detailed outcome measures.
The flow cytometric methods and other genetic techniques such as gene expression profiling and next generation sequencing are used widely within UK trials in myeloma, lymphoma and myeloid malignancies. These techniques are incorporated into early phase trials allowing assessment of new treatments for disease and later stage trials where there is the requirement for the application of more complex diagnostic and monitoring techniques.