Huntly headshot

Professor Brian Huntly

Leukaemia stem cell biology and leukaemogenesis


Laboratory Location:

Cambridge Institute for Medical Research, Cambridge Biomedical Campus

Departmental Affiliation:

Department of Haematology


Prof Brian Huntly is a clinical academic who combines running a laboratory group with his practice as a Consultant Haematologist in Addenbrooke’s Hospital. He studied Medicine at Edinburgh, trained in Haematology in Dundee and Cambridge and is a member of the Royal College of Physicians and a Fellow of the Royal College of Pathologists. He studied for his PhD in Cambridge and performed post-doctoral work at Harvad, prior to returning to Cambridge to set up his own research group.


European Research Council, Kay Kendall Leukaemia Fund, Worldwide Cancer Research, Leukaemia Lymphoma Research Programme, Medical Research Council

External links

Huntly research image 2-1ratio

DNA-DNA interaction mapping by a modified chromosome conformation capture method, capture Hi-C (Chi-C) are demonstrated on Ch6 in HPC7 haematopoeitic progenitor cells. We are currently using this method to interrogate abnormal leukaemia stem cell transcription. (Credit Shabana Vohra)


Leukaemias have recently been demonstrated to be wholly dependent upon a small population of so-called cancer stem cells. These cells represent the critical targets for treatment and a greater understanding of their biology and its interface with normal stem cell function is fundamental to improving treatment outcomes.

The focus of the Huntly laboratory is on this interface. We use a combination of techniques in cell line and animal models as well as confirmatory studies in primary human tissue to dissect stem cell function. Our aim is to understand how normal stem cell function is subverted in cancer and how these processes might be therapeutically targeted to improve the outcome in haematological malignancies. We are examining the role of mutations that occur in and alter the role of haematopoietic stem and progenitors as early events before leading to the subsequent development of leukaemias and lymphomas (pre-leukaemic stem cells). Many of these mutations alter epigenetic regulation, enhancer function and transcriptional programmes and these are all ongoing areas of investigation within the lab.

Therapeutically, a recent example of our work is the identification of the Bromodomain and extra terminal (BET) proteins as critical mediators of leukaemia stem cells in AML and the development of an inhibitor of these proteins that has already entered early phase clinical trials in relapsed blood cancers.

Huntly group 2-1ratio

Ann Sopihie Bach

Faisal Basheer

Paolo Gallipoli

George Giotopoulos

Sarah Horton

Eshwar Meduri

Hikari Osaki

Daniel Sasca

Olivia Shepherd

Shabhana Vora

Haiyang Yun

Plain English

Our group are interested in the interface between normal and malignant haematopoietic stem cell biology. Comparisons of these systems will allow us to determine how normal regulatory mechanisms are corrupted to generate haematological malignancies. We use experimental model systems and patient sample to answer these questions. This information will provide the basis for targeted therapies to improve the dismal treatment outcomes for haematological cancers. 

Key Publications

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