GRANTS. Alessandro Camponeschi, a researcher at the Department of Rheumatology and Inflammation Research, has received a two-year postdoctoral research position from Barncancerfonden, starting this autumn. He is one of in total five researchers at University of Gothenburg who recieve a grant from the foundation.
The project concerns acute lymphocytic leukemia (ALL), one of the most common forms of cancer in children affecting the bone marrow and blood. About 85 percent of the children afflicted with the disease currently survive.
“Unfortunately, the treatment extends over several years, which not only affects the child with leukemia, but also the family, with long periods in the hospital and little time for any siblings the child has,” says Camponeschi. “The children are treated with chemotherapy, a severe treatment that involves an increased risk of infections and also increases the risk of secondary cancer later and other undesirable effects.”
Acute lymphocytic leukemia comes in many forms and is divided into different subgroups. The most common form is called B-cell precursor acute lymphoblastic leukemia (BCP-ALL), characterized by an overproduction of immature white blood cells, called B-cell lymphoblasts. In the project, Camponeschi and his colleagues hope to increase knowledge about the genetic and immunological changes seen in BCP-ALL.
“We need to understand these changes better so we can search for alternative treatments.”
The team, headed by Professor Lill Mårtensson-Bopp, combines cell and molecular biology studies in which they compare samples from children with BCP-ALL with corresponding cells from healthy subjects. The team has previously shown that several of the subtypes have become ‘stuck’ at a certain stage of differentiation and that these stages vary among the different subtypes. They have also found that the expression of many genes appears to be the same as in their normal counterparts, while the regulation of several molecules is altered, some of which are expected to have significance for the emergence of the BCP-ALL subtype.
“We expect that these studies will increase understanding of the emergence of BCP-ALL, and we hope they will also result in the discovery of new biomarkers and treatment targets.”
TEXT: ELIN LINDSTRÖM CLAESSEN