30th April 2020 – A Message to Supporters from Dr David J Flavell – Charity & Scientific Director of Leukaemia Busters.

Dr David J Flavell PhD FRCPath
Charity & Scientific Director of Leukaemia Busters

30th April 2020  

Coronavirus and Leukaemia Busters

We are all living through an historical period in time, the likes of which none of us have ever seen before and hopefully will never see again. Life has changed beyond recognition for everyone, not least of all for the many research scientists around the world working on a whole range of medical problems that range from cancer to multiple sclerosis. For the majority their work has been severely curtailed at best, or ground to a halt at worse. A large section of the biomedical research community has consequently turned its attention to the COVID-19 problem if only because until this pandemic is squarely beaten, life cannot return to the way it was before and so maximum effort to solve this is not only fully justified but also very necessary.

  • Many scientists have diverted their attention to COVID-19 research.
  • COVID-19 research will very likely benefit other areas of medical research in future.
  • Leukaemia Busters research will return with increased vigour.
  • To all our wonderful supporters, past and present, thank you and stay safe during this extraordinary time in human history.

Our own laboratory-based research at Leukaemia Busters has temporarily ceased with laboratory staff furloughed until at least the end of June. This doesn’t stop us from voluntarily carrying out virtual thought experiments and taking stock of research results we had already generated before our labs were forced to shut down on the 24th March. In fact the past five weeks have been quite productive in giving us time to reflect and think about the next phase of our research plan to conduct new exciting and relevant experiments once we do return to our laboratories in the months ahead.

Despite all the disruption we can take comfort in the fact that there is very likely to be positive spin offs from what is happening now in COVID-19 research. The intense global research effort taking place to understand the SARS-CoV-2 virus that causes COVID-19 will almost certainly pay dividends for other branches of medicine and teach us new facts that will likely be of value in understanding other medical problems.

Something similar happened in the 1980’s with the HIV epidemic for which at the time no effective treatment existed. This eventually led to a massive research effort that gave rise to a whole host of new discoveries about the immune system and the discovery of anti-viral drugs with direct benefits for the treatment of other diseases including cancer. It is often the case that crises like the one we are currently in, teach us new facts that may not have been obvious before. Think of some of the perplexing and unusual properties of this particular coronavirus and the way in which some people respond. Undoubtedly probing these unusual properties and the way our immune system responds will reveal things we may never have known otherwise.

This may be the last paragraph in my message but it is the most important. The real purpose of this brief message is to thank and reassure the tens of thousands of Leukaemia Busters supporters from over the past 30 years that this pandemic is merely a pause in our fight against another equally dreaded disease, leukaemia. As soon as we are able to, we shall return with increased vigour to our research on new antibody-based drug development for leukaemia. The science we use in our everyday leukaemia research is very similar and sometimes identical to that used in COVID-19 research so we watch, absorb and learn from everything that is going on at present. Your past support has been instrumental in helping us to achieve our considerable successes over the 30 year history of the charity. We will continue to need your support to move our work forward in future for the direct benefit of future patients and we ask that you keep us in mind for your further support once this pandemic is finally behind us. Let me finish by sending my warmest good wishes to all hoping that everyone remains safe and well and reassure you that I’m completely convinced that medical science will win through on behalf of us all with both COVID-19 and with leukaemia.

With best wishes

David J Flavell 

Charity & Scientific Director, Leukaemia Busters

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