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Investigators based at the Kennedy Institute of Rheumatology, NDORMS have recently received CRUK awards to increase understanding of a variety of cancers and immunotherapy.

Montage of Audrey Gérard, Anjali Kusumbe, Richard Williams, Felix Clanchy and Alex Clarke.

Audrey Gérard

Audrey Gérard, has been awarded a CRUK Immunology Project Award to look at the mechanisms inhibiting anti-tumour immunity. There has been unprecedented success in treating aggressive cancers with checkpoint blockade, immunotherapy that stimulates the body's own immune system to eliminate cancer cells. But more research is needed to determine whether there are other checkpoints restricting tumour immunity that could be therapeutically exploited to improve treatment where there has been less success.

"This award is a fantastic opportunity for us to expand our fundamental work on the feedback mechanisms regulating the immune system. It will allow us to investigate how this regulation is co-opted by cancer cells to evade the immune system."

Anjali Kusumbe, Richard Williams and Felix Clanchy

Anjali Kusumbe, Richard Williams and Felix Clanchy were granted a CRUK Early Detection Primer Award to research Ewing's Sarcoma, a highly malignant tumour that occurs in the bone or surrounding tissue, usually treated with chemotherapy and surgery or radiotherapy. But the spread of the disease and recurrence after therapy is associated with poor prognosis. To detect recurrence, patients undertake periodic chest X-rays, blood tests and remain vigilant for symptoms such as bone pain. The research proposes to improve the current method for the detection of relapse or occult disease at the end of treatment.

"This project brings together Anjali, Richard and Felix as researchers with an interest in bone cancer, pain, and detection of rare cells respectively. The funding will allow the team to consolidate and extend previous work in the development of models and tools to stratify patients according to risk of disease."

Alex Clarke

With his Cancer Immunology grant, Alex Clarke will explore how one-carbon (1C) metabolism in germinal centre B cells promotes autoimmunity and lymphoma. The aim of this project is to study and interfere with a vital pathway in which cells synthesise the amino acid serine from glucose, an important building block for cell growth.

"This award provides an exciting opportunity to apply the expertise my lab has developed in immune metabolism to understanding the origins of lymphoma, which we often see complicating autoimmune disease. We hope that identifying metabolic pathways shared between autoimmune B cells and lymphoma will pave the way for new treatment approaches which can be used across both diseases."

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