PATIENTS suffering from one of the most deadly forms of cancer have been offered fresh hope by a Glasgow trial.

Researchers are to import a cutting-edge technique from the US in a bid to help increase survival rates from acute myeloid leukaemia (AML).

Mortality rates from the blood cancer have increased by 84% since the early 1970s.

AML develops rapidly and chemo is used to kill as many leukaemia cells as possible. However, some cells can cluster together and become resistant to treatment.

Scientists at Glasgow Caledonian University are to bring a new form of testing to the UK, which was developed in New York, and will look at how leukaemia cells interact with bone marrow to form 'niches' which can make them resistant to chemotherapy.

Mark Williams, a lecturer in cell and molecular biology at GCU, who is leading the trial, said: “Chemotherapy resistance is a major contributing factor to inferior survival in AML.

“The importance of the bone marrow environment in the development of AML is now becoming more apparent.

“The 3D model system reflects the ability of leukaemic cells to interact with the bone marrow and recreates their ability to form niches, which can offer protection from chemotherapy.

“Understanding how these cells behave is crucial, not only to drive the development of new drugs but also to repurpose existing ones to enhance survival rates.”

The process was developed by Dr Monica Guzman, Assistant Professor of Pharmacology in Medicine at Cornell University in New York, one of the world's foremost experts in therapeutic targeting of leukaemia stem cells.

Acute myeloid leukaemia mortality rates have increased by 84% since the early 1970s, according to Cancer Research UK, with 2516 deaths recorded in the UK in 2014.