Epigenetics and telomere biology in hematological malignancies
Degerman’s research team holds expertise in the fields of epigenetics, telomere biology, and hematopathology, and aims to improve diagnostics, risk stratification, and treatment of hematological malignancies with a special focus on T-cell acute lymphoblastic leukemia (T-ALL). The research is carried out in the Translational Research Centre at Umeå University, which is an excellent translational research environment equipped with modern molecular biology technologies.
Current high-intensive cytotoxic treatments for aggressive T-cell malignancies have improved survival but has also resulted in severe short- and long-term side effects. Good prognostic markers are needed which can identify the true high-risk patients who need the most intensive treatments, but also the lower-risk patients who could potentially be treated with less intensive protocols.
The research group has identified DNA methylation (CpG Island Methylator Phenotype) classification as a promising prognostic marker for T-ALL. The actual mechanism that drives transformation and relapse in T-ALL remains poorly understood. The research group aims to 1) decipher the molecular mechanisms resulting in aberrant DNA methylation patterns that are linked to specific CIMP subgroups, 2) evaluate the significance of CIMP classification as a risk-stratifying marker to be included in clinical decision making, 3) identify new potential targets for treatment.
Besides the main T-ALL project, the Degerman research group studies the role of epigenetics and telomere biology as predictive or prognostic biomarkers in hematological cells. These studies include a wide range of cohorts from newborn to old individuals e.g. preterm born children, the Betula aging project, childhood cancer survivors, and brain tumor patients, in collaboration with national and international research groups.
The current projects are funded mainly by grants from the Swedish Childhood Cancer Fund, the Swedish Cancer Society, Cancerforskningsfonden i Norrland, Kempestiftelserna, and the Medical Faculty, Umeå University.