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Acute myeloid leukaemia (AML) is a rare and often lethal form of blood cancer. Several groups at the WIMM focus on trying to understand how and why AML progresses, with the aim of developing better diagnostic and therapeutic strategies for this devastating disease.

Professor Paresh Vyas, a group leader at the WIMM and a practicing clinician, combines both basic research into AML alongside regular contact with patients suffering from the disease. When one of Professor Vyas’ patients with AML sadly passed away, the school at which the patient’s grandson is a pupil decided to dedicate their summer fete to raising money for AML research in Professor Vyas’ lab.

Prior to the fete at Elstree School (located in Woolhampton near Newbury) Professor Vyas spoke at the school assembly to explain a little more about how blood is made 'fresh' every day and why we need this continual production of blood to survive. The production of 10 billion new blood cells is a remarkable feat coordinated by the interaction of blood cells and their environment within the bone marrow. As blood cells develop, the DNA, which is a code within all cells, including blood cells, tells the cells how and when to develop. The students learnt that diseases like AML can occur when the code is changed or damaged. Professor Vyas pointed out that the WIMM is internationally recognized as a global leader in understanding diseases of the blood, and that the money raised by the school would be invaluable in helping researchers at the institute to continue their pioneering work into this potentially deadly disease.

Olivia Inglis, a member of staff at the school, said: ‘The children so enjoyed listening to Professor Vyas and were clearly fascinated by what he had to say. The quantity and quality of the questions that were asked at the end were testament to the interest that was sparked.’ The Elstree School summer fete raised an impressive £285, which will go towards funding AML research at the WIMM.

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