Childhood leukaemia Increasing our understanding Cancer Research UK

inside our bones is bone marrow and it's where blood cells are formed from special cells called stem cells normally these Blood factories pump out immature cells which then mature into fully fledged red blood cells white blood cells or platelets in acute leukemia however a fault occurs in these stem cells before we're born which means that the immature cells get stuck and never continue their journey to becoming useful cell types this blockage in the system prevents the stem cells from doing their job soon this buildup of problem cells spills out of the bone marrow and into the bloodstream causing tumors to form in other parts of the body so what causes the stem cells to produce these cancerous little blinders in the first place in most infant leukemia a translocation is responsible for the fault this is when a section of one chromosome is switched with a section from another this change to the body's chromosomes causes leukemia but we don't yet know exactly how it occurs Katherine otters back at the University of Edinburgh is developing a way to study what happens spot any markers of leukemia earlier and crucially allow us to test potential new treatments across the country Cancer Research UK is funding work like this to better understand cancers affecting children and young people and to develop new better and kinder treatments