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Dr Allison BlairB.Sc., Ph.D.(St.And.)

Principal Clinical Scientist

Allison Blair

Dr Allison BlairB.Sc., Ph.D.(St.And.)

Principal Clinical Scientist

Member of

External positions

Principal Clinical Scientist, Bristol Institute for Transfusion Sciences, NHS Blood and Transplant

Research interests

Group: Cancer Stem Cell group

Cancer Stem Cells and Haematopoietic Stem Cell Therapy, including studying the characteristics of leukaemia cells to increase our understanding of the differences between stem cells that can initiate leukaemia and haemopoietic stem cells that produce normal blood cells; developing new therapeutic strategies targeted at leukaemia stem cells; ex vivo expansion of normal blood  stem cells to produce therapeutic quantities of red blood cells, platelets and neutrophils for use in transfusion and transplantation

Our research is focused on the biology of childhood leukaemia and on ex vivo expansion of haemopoietic stem cells for therapeutic use.

Acute lymphoblastic leukaemia (ALL) is the most common paediatric cancer with survival rates of 80-85%. However, a significant proportion of patients relapse (~20-25%). Around half of acute leukaemia cases that relapse undergo more intensive therapy involving stem cell transplantation. Unfortunately, for some patients the transplants are ineffective, often due to insufficient numbers of stem cells in the transplanted material. Our research aims to better understand how leukaemia progresses and to develop improved treatment methods for this disease.

In addition to treating patients with haematological malignancies, stem cells from blood can be used to treat disorders such as sickle cell disease and β thalassaemia.  Expanding the number of stem cells can be very useful for cord blood cell transplantation, where stem cell numbers are low and this limits their use to paediatric recipients.  It is also possible to direct the stem cells to mature into specific blood cells, such as red blood cells.  The cultured blood cells provide a younger source of cells for patients with sickle cell disease and β thalassaemia who require regular blood transfusions.

Specific research areas

  • Characterisation of leukaemia initiating cell populations in childhood leukaemias.
  • Development of new therapeutic strategies targeted at leukaemia initiating cells and improvement of disease monitoring throughout the course of treatment
  • Ex-vivo expansion of haemopoietic cells to produce improved therapeutic products for patients who require a haemopoietic stem cell transplant.
  • Assess funtion and survival of cultured haemopoietic cells as a resource for patients that depend on regular transfusions and those with rare blood groups.

 

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Postal address:
Biomedical Sciences Building
University Walk
Clifton
Bristol
United Kingdom