Dr Emma Josefsson & Dr Kylie Mason
investigators: Dr Emma
Josefsson & Dr Kylie Mason
Institute: The Walter & Eliza Hall Institute of
Project title: The role of thrombopoietin and
platelets in blood cancer
Disease focus: Leukaemia and lymphoma
Funding period: 2014
Platelets, the tiny cells vital for blood clotting in humans, may play a role in leukaemia and lymphoma development.
A link between platelets and cancer spreading was first discovered in the late 1960s. More recently, researchers have found that in some cases platelets can promote cancer cell survival and metastasis of solid tumours. However, very little is known about the role these cells play in blood cancers.
Dr Emma Josefsson and Dr Kylie Mason are leading a research project exploring how blood cancer cells affect platelet activity and the production of thrombopoietin (TPO), a protein that regulates the production of platelets in the bone marrow.
The abnormal number of platelets and/or TPO signalling could be influencing both lymphoma onset and the spread of the cancer cells, according to Dr Josefsson.
“Our research will provide a better understanding of the roles thrombopoietin and platelets play in lymphoma and leukaemia.
"In the future, this research could lead to include treating B cell lymphoma with drugs targeting thrombopoietin, drugs that are already approved for use in human clinical trials.”