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Cracking the cancer code.

Acute myeloid leukaemia (AML) is one of the most aggressive types of blood cancers - with just one in five patients surviving beyond five years of their diagnosis. For patients that don’t respond well to chemotherapy, the life-expectancy is just four months. Currently, we do not properly understand why some cancer therapies are unsuccessful, making it difficult for clinicians to administer the right treatment to each cancer patient.

Professor Sergio Rutella and his team from NTU's John van Geest Cancer Research Centre are tackling this. They’re investigating the use of a patient’s own immune system to fight cancer – a process known as immunotherapy – and conducting research into the genetic profile of tumours.

Their aim is to identify new ways of targeting immune suppression caused by cancer and to repair the ability of the immune system to eliminate cancer cells, without the need for tissue-damaging chemotherapy.

Using advanced, cross-disciplinary technologies - and collaborating with pharmaceutical partners – our researchers have already identified the specific genes present in patients who have responded well to a new AML immunotherapy drug. These discoveries will help allocate therapies based on the genes of each individual patient, allowing clinicians to tailor treatments.


NTU is cracking the cancer code by developing novel cancer therapies for aggressive tumours, and sparing patients from unnecessary and dangerous treatments.

This research was recently submitted to the Allied Health Professions, Dentistry, Nursing and Pharmacy Unit of Assessment in the Research Excellence Framework (REF) 2021, where 99% of the research was rated as world-leading or internationally excellent in terms of quality.

Health and Wellbeing

This research is drawn from the strategic research theme of Health and Wellbeing.

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Groups and centres

John van Geest Cancer Research Centre

The John van Geest Cancer Research Centre is a unique, purpose-built scientific facility in the East Midlands focusing on cancer research into diagnosis, prognosis, and treatment.

Centre for Health, Ageing and Understanding Disease (CHAUD)

CHAUD is structured around four themes covering various aspects of human health and chronic diseases, including cancers which are treatable but not curable, diabetes and other inflammatory conditions.

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