Dr Ian Hitchcock
It is essential that our bodies control the number of different blood cell types in our circulation. To keep the level constant, our bodies send out signals that help control how many new blood cells are made. Sometimes this process can go wrong, causing myeloproliferative neoplasms (MPNs) – a group of blood cancers.
At the University of York, Dr Ian Hitchcock is leading a group that’s studying MPNs in the lab. The team want to understand more about how MPNs develop, and find new ways to treat them.
For his research, Dr Hitchcock is interested in two different molecules that are commonly faulty in MPNs. These molecules interact with a signal-catching molecule, a ‘receptor’, which sits on top of some blood cells. When this particular receptor is turned on, it tells cells to grow. Dr Hitchcock thinks that the faulty molecules switch on the receptor inappropriately, disrupting signalling systems that normally control blood cell production, and causing MPNs to develop.
As part of the work, Dr Hitchcock will study the effects of small molecules which can block the receptor. This help improve our understanding of how these molecules behave. It could also suggest ways to target this faulty signalling process in MPNs and lead to new treatments for them.