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University of Southampton

University of Southampton

Southampton is a Leukaemia & Lymphoma Research Centre of Excellence.

We are currently investing £6.5 million into vital blood cancer research in Southampton.

We are also investing in important research at Wessex Regional Genetics laboratory in Salisbury that is part of the University of Southampton Leukaemia & Lymphoma Research Centre of Excellence. Find out more about our Centres of Excellence.

Southampton has been recognised for the innovation and breadth of its research that is bringing real benefit to patients touched by all blood cancers, including leukaemia, lymphoma and myeloma, in the south west and across the UK.

DNA vaccines

Groundbreaking research led by Professor Freda Stevenson at the University of Southampton is developing DNA vaccines that can be used to treat patients with myeloma as well as chronic myeloid leukaemia (CML).

These vaccines manipulate a patients' own immune system to fight the cancer in their blood and are likely to be important for patients who do not respond to any other treatments.

Professor Christian Ottensmeier is testing a new DNA vaccine in patients with CML as part of a Leukaemia & Lymphoma Research clinical trial in Southampton.

Targeted treatments for lymphoma

Monoclonal antibodies are a relatively new type of treatment that kills cancer cells directly, and are therefore less toxic than conventional chemotherapy. They work by attaching to molecules found only on the surface of specific lymphoma cells, and were initially introduced to diagnose all the different types of non-Hodgkin lymphoma.

Research led by Dr Mark Cragg at University of Southampton has uncovered the secrets of how a monoclonal antibody called Rituximab works. Rituximab was introduced to treat non-Hodgkin lymphoma in the 1980s and has dramatically improved outcome for these patients. Understanding how these important drugs work will enable us to use monoclonal antibodies to treat other blood cancers.

New research by this group has identified a new type of monoclonal antibody, called ‘type II’ that is five times more effective at killing lymphoma cells than existing treatments. Dr Cragg is also researching treatment resistance in chronic lymphocytic leukaemia (CLL).

Guiding treatment for leukaemia

Dr Jon Strefford’s research, which is also focused on CLL, is identifying genes that can predict how well leukaemia patients will respond to treatment.

Recent results found that CLL patients who have defects on a particular chromosome, the structures that carry our DNA, are more likely to respond poorly to treatment. Identifying clues that can determine response to treatment will help doctors guide treatments for these patients better as well as leading to the development of more targeted treatments.

Groundbreaking clinical trial

Southampton is home to a ground-breaking clinical trial for myeloma. This trial, led by Dr Kim Orchard, delivers a new form of radiotherapy that targets cancer cells in the bone marrow directly, without damaging healthy cells. The treatment, which uses radioactive isotopes to home in on and destroy myeloma cells, allows doctors to deliver much higher doses of treatment, safely and more effectively.