Leukaemia Busters scientists
The Simon Flavell Leukaemia Research Laboratory at Southampton General Hospital have made a breakthrough discovery on how to increase the potency of immunotoxin treatment by over one million-fold for certain types of leukaemia and lymphoma.
Working collaboratively with Professor Hendrik Fuchs and Dr Christopher Bachran from the Charite University in Berlin LB’s scientists have discovered that molecules called saponins extracted from the plant known as Baby’s Breath (Gypsophila paniculata L) are able to enhance the killing activity of antibody-based immunotoxins for certain types of human leukaemia and lymphoma. It is thought that this effect occurs because saponins assist the entry of the immunotoxin into the cancer cell interior by interacting with the cell membrane. Leukaemia Busters Scientific Director, Dr David Flavell said “This is a potentially very important discovery that could allow us to kill leukaemia cells in the patient much more effectively with much lower doses of immunotoxin. The challenge now is to establish how best to apply this laboratory discovery to the treatment of patients. The continued collaboration with our German colleagues in Berlin are absolutely essential to this process and shows just how important international collaborations that have led to this discovery actually are”
The breakthrough work has not yet been published but is due to be presented to the global cancer research community at the American Association for Cancer Research Annual Meeting in Washington DC in April of this year. This is the largest cancer research meeting in the world that brings together 20,000 cancer research workers from around the globe. “We are all excited at the major advance this could represent for immunotoxin treatments for leukaemia and we’re all looking very much to revealing this at the world biggest cancer meeting” Dr Flavell said.