From dr. Ian Hampson, Reader in Viral Oncology,
University of Manchester Viral Oncology Laboratories,
Institute of Cancer Studies.
As discussed previously, we are developing a new approach to identify unknown infections, which we believe may cause children’s leukaemia.
Humans produce large numbers of antibodies (>10 billion) against infections encountered during everyday life. These antibodies can persist after the infection has gone which means they provide a historical record of what each individual has been exposed to during their lifetime.
Since our last post we have continued to develop our method of comparing antibody repertoires between individuals or pools of individuals. This approach uses high-powered computation to predict the identity of infections, which have occurred in one group, or person, but which are not present in another. This output has now been tested experimentally using serum samples from more than one group of patients and disease free controls with the outcome confirming the computer predictions, which were derived from our initial groups.
We are now extending our testing to additional numbers of patients and controls in order to determine predictive scores and the diagnostic value regarding the presence of these microorganisms in the disease.
In addition to children’s leukaemia, the technology we are using has great potential in other areas of medical research. Many diseases are ‘idiopathic’, which means the cause is as yet unknown and it is very often believed these may be due to unidentified infections. A few examples of such diseases are arthritis, multiple sclerosis, motor neuron disease, Parkinson’s disease, sarcoidosis and, of course, many types of cancer.
The problem is that without first knowing what to look for it is not possible to test for a particular pathogen. Clearly if causal relationships between infections and idiopathic diseases could be established, this may well provide new strategies aimed at both prevention and treatment and we believe our new approach will do just this.
With your help Caring Cancer Trust are funding this non-animal tested research into childhood leukaemia at the University of Manchester Viral Oncology Laboratories.