Dr Bela Wrench

Dr Bela Wrench

Centre: Haemato-Oncology
Clinical Senior Lecturer
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QMUL Directory

My research focuses on leukaemia initiating cell biology in adult acute lymphoblastic leukaemia.

Research Details

Leukaemia initiating cells (LIC) are cellular drivers of disease progression and the most relevant cells for therapeutic targeting. 

I am interested in understanding the underlying biology of LIC populations and processes that drive LIC activity, as well as pathways promoting therapeutic resistance

My recent work has established a key role of a protein called Stromal Derived Factor-1 in driving LIC activity in subgroups of adult acute lymphoblastic leukaemia (ALL).

I am currently looking more closely at the role of the microenvironment in deciding LIC characteristics, in particular tumour dormancy - a key mechanism for cancer cells surviving therapy. LIC biology will be studied using transplant models, cellular imaging, genomics and proteomics approaches to  inform our understanding of how to minimise tumour recurrence.

My laboratory interests are complimented by my clinical expertise in adult ALL. I am deputy lead for the National Adult ALL Molecular Laboratory as well as a member of the National Cancer Research Institute Adult ALL Subgroup that develops and leads clinical trials for this disease.


I undertook my medical studies at Imperial College of Science Technology and Medicine.

After general post-graduate medical training I decided to sub-specialise in Haematology, inspired by the opportunity to link laboratory diagnostics with clinical care in a meaningful way.

In 2005 I joined Professor Letizia Foroni’s Laboratory at University College London to undertake MD research into adult ALL. I then pursued my research interests in this field by obtaining a LLR Clinician Scientist Fellowship in 2008.

In 2014 I  joined BCI as an Early Career Researcher to establish my own research group.


  • Leukaemia Lymphoma Research (Bennett Fellowship)
  • Cancer Research UK
  • Gabrielle's Angels Foundation
  • Greg Wolf Foundation

Key Publications

B Patel, A Dey, AZ Castleton, C Schwab, E Samuel, J Sivakumaran, B Beaton, N Zareian, Y Zhang, L Rai, T Enver, AV Moorman and AK Fielding. Mouse xenograft modelling of Human Adult Acute Lymphoblastic Leukaemia provides mechanistic insights into adult LIC biology. Blood (2014) 124(1): 96-105. PMID: 24825861

AZ Castleton, A Dey, B Beaton, B Patel, A Aucher, DM Davis and AK Fielding. Human mesenchymal stromal cells deliver systemic oncolytic measles virus to treat acute lymphoblastic leukemia in the presence of humoral immunity. Blood (2014) 123(9):1327-35. PMID: 24345754

B Patel, A Dey, E Ghorani, S Kumar, Y Malam, L Rai, AJ Steele, J Thomson, RG Wickremasinghe, Y Zhang, AZ Castleton and AK Fielding. Differential Cytopathology and Kinetics of Measles Oncolysis in Two Primary B-cell Malignancies Provides Mechanistic Insights. Mol Ther. (2011) 19(6):1034-40. PMID: 21427708

Y Zhang, B Patel, A Dey, E Ghorani, L Rai, M Elham, AZ Castleton and AK Fielding. Attenuated, oncolytic, but not wild-type measles virus infection has pleiotropic effects on human neutrophil function. J Immunol (2012) 188(3):1002-10. 22180616

Further Publications

Additional publications will be available here

My research focuses on leukaemia initiating cell biology in adult acute lymphoblastic leukaemia.

External Activities

  • Member of the National Cancer Institute Adult ALL subgroupposition


A research assistant position will be available in July 2016. I am looking for a highly motivated, imaginative person interested in working cooperatively within a group to drive forward our understanding of LICs in adult ALL pathogenesis.

See other researchers working on:

Blood cancers Clinical Trials Leukaemia Stem Cells
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