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The University of Sussex

 10 July 2001 

Sussex scientists to probe protein implicated in cancer

A protein that regulates the growth of blood cells could provide a vital clue in the fight against the blood cancer lymphoma, according to scientists at the University of Sussex.

Dr Alison Sinclair, from the Department of Biological Sciences, has been awarded 100,000 by Leukaemia Research Fund to further her research into this protein, called p27.

"This protein is one of the body's main mechanisms to prevent normal blood cells multiplying when they shouldn't," Dr Sinclair explains. "But for some reason it is not activated in lymphoma cells."

"We are seeking to find out why this happens and to develop a drug that could, eventually, be used to activate this protein in lymphoma cells."

Dr David Grant, Scientific Director of Leukaemia Research Fund, comments: "Lymphoma is one of the few cancers that continue to show increases in both incidence and associated mortality in the western world. If we can fully understand how this cancer develops, this will pave the way for more targeted treatments. In the longer term, it will also enable scientists to look for ways to prevent the disease."

Joan Beales, of the Brighton, Hove and District Branch of LRF, says: "It's a real boost to our efforts, seeing money we have raised being invested in such worthwhile research here in Brighton.

"And we will keep on raising money until we reach our goal - a safe and effective cure for patients with lymphoma, leukaemia and the related cancers of the blood."

LRF is the only national UK charity devoted exclusively to improving treatments, finding cures and investigating the causes and prevention of cancers of the blood and related conditions, in children and adults.

It provides free patient information literature on all cancers of the blood and related conditions either by phone on 020 7405 0101, by post at 43 Great Ormond Street, London WC1N 3JJ.

 Notes for editors 

  • For further information, please contact Andrew Miller at the LRF press office on 020 7269 9019, or Jacqui Bealing or Alison Field at the University of Sussex, Tel. 01273 678888, Fax 01273 877456, email or
  • What is lymphoma? Lymphoma is a group of cancers that form in the body's lymphatic system - a series of vessels that drain fluid away from the body's tissues and return it to the blood system. The general term lymphoma includes about a dozen different forms of the disease but there are two main categories: Hodgkin's disease and non-Hodgkin's lymphoma.
  • How many people does lymphoma affect? Around 6,500 people in the UK are diagnosed with non-Hodgkin's lymphoma each year and it is most likely to be diagnosed between the ages of 50-75 years. By comparison, there are approximately 1,300 new cases of Hodgkin's disease which is most commonly diagnosed in people between the ages of 20 and 40.
  • The future? In the UK, the incidence of non-Hodgkin's lymphoma has been rising over the last forty years. The rate of increase is about 4% per year. If this level of increase is sustained it will mean that by 2025, the incidence of this disease will be comparable with that of breast, colon, lung and skin cancer.

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