Welsh researchers are making "significant" progress in developing a new treatment for leukaemia, it has been reported.
A Cardiff University team has discovered that large amounts of a protein called NF-kB are linked to the growth of chronic lymphocytic leukaemia (CLL) - the most common form of the disease in adults in the UK.
AdvertisementPatients with the most aggressive form of the disease also had the highest levels of NF-kB.
Dr Saman Hewamana, a Leukaemia Research clinical training fellow, has also been able to show - in laboratory conditions - that an experimental drug can block NF-kB action, which results in the death of leukaemia cells.
The new drug also kills leukaemia cells taken from patients who are resistant to conventional chemotherapy and it the drug does not appear to harm normal blood cells.
This could spare patients from the effects of conventional chemotherapy.
The drug will be tested for the first time in patients with CLL in trials in Cardiff in the near future.
Dr Chris Pepper, who is leading the research, said, "If these very promising results can be repeated in the clinical setting, it seems likely that drugs aimed at disabling NF-kB will become an important addition to the treatment options for this form of leukaemia, which affects more than 3,500 patients in the UK each year."
Dr Hewamana's research, which is funded by UK cancer charity Leukaemia Research, has been published in the journal Blood.