The Alex Hulme Foundation was formed on 12th October 2011 by Alex's Mum and Dad, Nicola and Dave Hulme along with Alex's Auntie, Brenda Jackson. Through donations made to the Alex Hulme Foundation donors will be helping towards improving the research into and the treatment of this dreadful disease and thus providing diagnosed children with a better prognosis for the future.
Many children survive this disease, over 80 per cent, but unfortunately Alex wasn't one of them so there is still a long way to go before we reach the target of a one hundred per cent survival rate.
In April 2012 the Alex Hulme Foundation was proud and delighted to announce an agreed collaboration with Dr. Suzanne Turner, the only Paediatric Lymphoma Researcher in the UK.
Phase one of the research project is expected to take up to five years therefore we wish to raise £200,000 for research and £50,000 for equipment, making an initial target of £250,000 by 2017. By raising this amount, we will ensure we are able to help Dr Turner make a massive difference for diagnosed children in the future.
Through funds raised so far, the Foundation has been able to purchase vital research equipment and fund a PhD studentship at the University of Cambridge.
Dr Suzanne Turner
UKs only Paediatric Lymphoma Researcher Joins the Team!
In April 2012 the Alex Hulme Foundation was proud and delighted to announce an agreed collaboration with Dr. Suzanne Turner, the only Paediatric Lymphoma Researcher in the UK. It soon became apparent that our hopes were mirrored by Dr. Turner and that there were immediate steps that, with the help of donated funds from the Foundation can be put into place to allow Dr. Turner to set up and develop a pioneering research project to investigate B-Cell Non Hodgkin Lymphoma. The work will focus on the causes and the treatments needed to provide children with not only more individualised treatment protocols but most importantly a better outcome in life. We are proud to announce that on 22nd June 2102 the Foundation made its first payment to Dr. Turner to allow our reasearch project to commence. This was a thrilling and emotional day for everyone and the realisation that we can now all say that we are making a difference.
The first stage of the research project is expected to take up to five years and is expected to cost a minimum of £250,000. By raising this amount, we will ensure we are able to help Dr Turner make a massive difference for diagnosed children in the future. The end of year accounts indicate the amount raised in the first two years incredible £125,000. The research project will allow us to provide tangible evidence of how donations will be spent, and we will be providing regular updates.
In October 2013 the Foundation funded a small stipend to allow Dr Turner to take on Jackie Waller, an undergraduate degree student, as a full time assistant. Jackie worked within the Turner lab for a year carrying out research to identify the cancer stem cells within B-cell Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma.
Pioneering Research Project
Aim - Determining the identity of the paediatric B-cell Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma stem cell and its chemotherapeutic sensitivity
Summary - Paediatric B-cell Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma (B-NHL) is currently treated with a combination of toxic chemotherapies and at present the event free survival stands at ~75%. This statistic shows that unfortunately some children still suffer devastating disease relapse and we believe that this is because in many cases current treatment fails to kill the source of the tumour. This research will identify the source of the tumour, the cancer stem cell which gives rise to the bulk population and is presumed to exist in a protected niche. Furthermore, this project will address the weak points of these cells that might be exploited therapeutically.
1. What is the identity of cancer stem cells (CSC) in paediatric B-cell Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma (B-NHL)?
2. Are these cells spared following standard chemotherapy?
UNIVERSITY OF CAMBRIDGE DEPARTMENT OF PATHOLOGY
Addenbrooke’s Hospital, Hills Road, Cambridge, CB2 0QQ
Tel: 01223 762655
Jackie has made great strides forwards during her time at the lab and identified the ‘Queen bees’ in childhood B-NHL, importantly Jackie has established the techniques to look for them and so when our first patient samples come in we will be well equipped to process them. This has not been an easy task but Jackie has succeeded where others may have failed and this is due to her great diligence and natural aptitude for lab work.
We were of course sad to see Jackie leave us but at the same time pleased that someone new is coming to continue her excellent work. We have recruited a fantastic candidate for the first Alex Hulme Foundation PhD studentship - Sorcha Forde. Sorcha comes to us having gained experience in labs in both the USA and Ireland; I am certain that she will dive head first into the project and produce excellent data."
Dr Suzanne D. Turner PhD. Leukaemia and Lymphoma Research Bennett Fellow
Vital Research Equipment
The next step was to fund the purchase of vital equipment that was more expensive to buy than grants would allow and equipment that was previously borrowed from other labs at considerable time and expense. By Christmas 2013 we had paid £27,000 to buy a Fluorescence Activated Cell Sorter (FACS) - Accuri C6 flow cytometer and £15,111 to purchase a Bioruptor Sonication Device.
Bioruptor Sonication Device
Fluorescence Activated Cell Sorter (FACS)
Accuri C6 flow cytometer
Sorcha Forde - PHD Student
PhD Studentship Award
We have now agreed to fund an Alex Hulme Foundation PhD Studentship Award. Being able to provide such an award is considered to be a very prestigious step forward in the world of scientific research so would attract the very highest calibre of student. The PhD student will be tasked with providing significant results for B-Cell NHL and it’s pathogenesis with those results feeding back into future trials and directly into clinic to treat patients. The student will be registered at the University of Cambridge and the Foundation will pay for the student’s fees and stipend for a three year PhD studentship. An additional fourth year can be awarded, generally in year three. The other requirement of us would be to meet consumable costs for three years as the student would be writing up their thesis in the fourth year of the PhD.
As Trustees we consider the costs of approximately £157,000 by October 2017 fit with our fundraising targets.
We are pleased to announce that the Alex Hulme Foundation has awarded the PhD studentship to Sorcha Forde. Sorcha was awarded a first class honours degree from Trinity college in Dublin. We are delighted to welcome Sorcha as part of the team.
I can guarantee I will do my upmost to uphold the reputation of the University and most importantly I will dedicate myself completely to honouring the legacy of Alex through this research”
Research Update – January 2015
I am happy to report that Sorcha has well and truly settled into the lab and is proving herself to be a very capable scientist dedicated to her research; she is very often the last to leave the lab and is always busy at the lab bench. Progress has been made with validation of the cell lines and their complete characterization. Sorcha has also been setting up a patient derived xenograft (PDX) resource whereby we grow the tumours in the lab. These tumours grow surprisingly well and it means that we can look at events occurring in real live tumours rather than those that have been frozen or grown in many labs for many years (and probably do not look much like the original tumour at all any more). We are adding to this resource as tumour arise and we hope that it will bring real benefit to patients in the not too distant future. Of course as these tumours are thankfully relatively rare it will take us some years to expand our numbers but in the meantime the small number we do have will make a huge difference.
Dr Suzanne Turner
A Note from Sorcha
Now that I’ve fully settled into life here at Cambridge I am getting stuck into work and carrying out some interesting research. A lot of my work relies heavily on the Accuri C6 Flow Cytometer machine kindly donated to the lab by the foundation. A Flow Cytometer is an extremely powerful instrument that allows me to study single cells at a time from a population of several million.
Examining cells on an individual basis allows us to determine unique characteristics of different cells. Presently I am working with several cell lines which have been derived from B-cell Lymphomas. Using the Flow Cytometer I can examine these cells in minute detail and isolate specific cells that may be the driving force behind the tumours. Isolating out these cells using a Cell Sorter machine requires huge cell numbers and so I am currently at the beck and call of over 1 billion cells which need constant attention and feeding!!
Visit to the Lab!
During the summer holidays we were able to take a trip to Cambridge to meet Sorcha in the lab and hear about her latest findings.