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University of Oxford

Chronic lymphocytic leukaemia (CLL) is the most common leukaemia in the UK and affects an immune system cell called a B-cell. CLL causes lymph node swelling and invades the bone marrow. Importantly, CLL also leads to recurrent infections because of an ineffective immune system. People with CLL also have an increased risk of the body attacking its own tissues (autoimmune complications), particularly red blood cells and platelets in the blood.

We will look at numbers of four normal types of B-cells in the blood of CLL patients and compare them with control samples from people that do not have CLL.

The second stage of the project compares the function of B-cells in CLL patients with B-cells in people without CLL. We do this by looking at a molecule called RNA (similar to DNA). This investigation will enable us to define differences between those who do have CLL, and those who don’t. It may also allow us to understand why CLL patients cannot fight infections effectively or suffer autoimmune complications. We plan to combine this with work already under progress looking at RNA in early B-cells in bone marrow and improve our understanding of the earliest B-cells throughout their development.