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Our research is focused on understanding how blood cancers re-program the bone marrow environment to create a niche that fuels cancer progression and impede the effectiveness of treatments. We are particularly interested in cells called megakaryocytes – bone marrow cells that produce our circulating blood platelets and also regulate the bone marrow niche. In certain types of blood cancer called ‘myeloproliferative neoplasms’ – or ‘MPNs’ – these cells are produced in excess. In certain patients, the megakaryocytes then start to drive inflammation and scarring (fibrosis) of the bone marrow. Our goal is to determine why some patients progress to advanced stages of MPNs (fibrosis) and whether we can develop disease-modifying therapies that improve outcomes for patients.

To achieve this we perform in-depth analysis of samples from patients and use a variety of state-of-the-art disease models including a new method to grow 100s of mini bone marrows (‘organoids’) in a dish, to reproduce the bone marrow microenvironment in the laboratory.

We also look at the role of platelets in cancer – in particular how they may be used for early cancer detection.