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University of Hull -  a grant of £10,000 awarded by the Trustees to fund a research project to design, construct and test a medical device where Acute Myeloid Leukemia (AML) patient blood samples will be perfused in-vitro over the myeloblast bioimprints to clear out the cancer cells. The funding will allow Prof Vesselin Paunov (Chemistry), Dr Leigh Madden (Life Sciences) and their team to conduct potentially groundbreaking medical research into a project entitled "Medical device for removal of blood cancer cells from blood of leukemia patients". The funding enables the hiring of a post-doctoral researcher for 12 months to work on the development of the medical device and allow the University of Hull to carry out ground-breaking leukemia research. The project will be in close collaboration with two clinical hematologists from Hull York Medical School (Dr David Allsup) and the Centre for Oncology at Castle Hill Hospital, Cottingham (Dr Sahra Ali). AML is characterized by an accumulation of abnormal myeloblasts (cancerous cells) in the blood and bone marrow. Typically it is an aggressive form of leukemia which unless treated develops quite quickly, becoming rapidly worse over a few weeks.

The outcomes for AML patients have only marginally improved over the past few decades with most improvements being related to advances in supportive care. The majority of patients are still treated with 2-3 cycles of intensive chemotherapy. Overall only 40% of younger patients are cured but in the elderly this figure is less than 10%. Relapsing patients have an overall survival rate of 10%. There is a great local need to substantially improve on conventional AML-targeting chemotherapies as these methods have significant toxicity effects which limits their use in the elderly patients who comprise the majority of AML cases. A successful project outcome will have significant positive implications for the treatment of leukemia firstly to the benefit of local patients and in-turn on a national basis. Funded by CRUK, Prof Paunov's team has developed a novel cell shape recognition technology, which can retain specifically blood cancer cells from blood. The method relies on the selective binding of myeloblasts with bioimprints produced by templating layers of the target cells with polymers. Myeloblast bioimprints on polymer foil which are casts of the original cancerous cells have already been prepared. Since 'healthy' white blood cells are different in shape to myeloblasts, they would not be removed from the blood by the bioimprint. An experienced PDRA is in place who will work on the project for 1 year.

The overall aim in this project is to design, construct and test the medical device where AML patient blood samples will be perfused in-vitro over the myeloblast bioimprints to clear out the cancer cells. The specific objectives of the project are as follows:

1) Producing realistic and representative polymeric bioimprints from layers of AML patient myeloblasts. Modification of the surface of the polymeric bioimprints of the myeloblasts induce a weak attraction towards myeloblasts in blood.
3) Testing the performance of the myeloblast-imprinted surfaces to attract and selectively remove myeloblasts from blood. Evaluation of the AML cell recognition and retention rates.
3) Using Roll-to-Roll printing from a master bioimprint to produce a large area of the bioimprinted pattern on a plastic foil. This process will deliver a large area of myeloblast surface bioimprint to be used later for their effective removal from larger amounts of blood from AML patients.
4) Design, construction and testing of a prototype of a medical device based on the bioimprints to remove myeloblasts from peripheral blood of AML patients. Probing the device efficiency with respect to patient-to-patient variation of cell morphology.