Dr Julie Irving
Reader in Experimental Haematology

  • Email: julie.irving@ncl.ac.uk
  • Telephone: +44 (0) 191 208 4369
  • Fax: +44 (0) 191 208 4301
  • Address: Northern Institute for Cancer Research
    Paul O'Gorman Building
    Medical School
    Framlington Place
    Newcastle upon Tyne
    NE2 4HH

Molecular/cell biologist specialising in novel therapies for the treatment of haematological malignancies, principally childhood acute lymphoblastic leukaemia.

While the improvement in the treatment of childhood acute lymphoblastic leukaemia (ALL) over the last fifty years has been a resounding success, clinical challenges remain. They include the need for alternative therapies for relapsed disease and those at high risk of relapse due to persistent disease. In addition, treatment is prolonged, is associated with short and long term toxicity issues and some children may be cured with lesser treatment. The long term clinical goal may be to replace one or more of the standard therapeutic agents with a targeted, less toxic drug.

I lead a research team which aims to address these challenges by using advanced technologies to optimise therapy in children with ALL.  We perform minimal residual disease quantitation by state of the art flow cytometry which is fundamental for stratifying treatment but importantly are leaders in the field in terms of qualitative analyses of these persisting cells. We have made significant advances in understanding the underlying drug resistant phenotype of these persisting cells and how it may be therapeutically exploited. Thus future treatment protocols may include novel drugs which target these residual cells in children with high levels of persisting disease and consequently at high risk of relapse. In terms of novel therapies for relapsed ALL, my group has shown that mutation of genes activating the RAS/RAF/MEK/ERK pathway is the most common genetic abnormality and have identified  MEK inhibitors as a potential novel therapeutic option which would be  applicable to around 40% of children. Therefore, we are currently performing preclinical evaluation of the MEK inhibitor AZD6244, now in Phase II clinical trials for other cancers, for RAS-mutated relapsed ALL. In addition, to these preclinical l studies, my laboratory are investigating predictive biomarkers and performing pharmacodynamic assessments in a CRUK sponsored phase 1 clinical trial of an aurora kinase inhibitor in children with multiple relapsed/refractory ALL.

 

I lecture on :-

BGM3024

The Molecular Basis of Cancer

BGM3061

Genetic variation in common disease

BMS3008

Integrated Biomedical Sciences

BMS3010

Genetics of Common Disease

BMS3012

Cancer Biology and Therapy

PED3006

Carcinogenesis and Anticancer Drugs