The Nikolas Symposium further supports the examination of Histiocytic disorders by funding research initiatives together with Histio UK and the Artemis Association. As published in Nature magazine, the Nikolas Symposium has made decisive contributions to LCH research on multiple occasions.
In 2005, the Symposium contributed to a £150,000 fund to support a major three year research project at the University of Lausanne, Switzerland, led by Professor Hans Acha-Orbea. The project’s aim was to identify genes that are switched on when normal dendritic cells become tumors.
In 2009, the Nikolas Symposium supported a £220,954 grant to fund a ground-breaking project at the Institute of Child Health at University College London. Using a mouse model the project investigated how to introduce a normal Perforin gene – the gene most commonly affected in inherited HLH – into white blood cells.
Expanding on the success of the methods developed during the project, professors Bobby Gaspar and Adrian Thrasher along with Dr. Marlene Carmo, are now planning to develop this form of gene therapy to restore normal immune function in patients suffering from HLH [Hemophagocytic lymphohistiocytosis]
In 2012 the Nikolas Symposium committed funds to a collaborative project costing over £327,000 at the Center for Molecular and Cellular Biology of Inflammation, Kings College London and at the Institute of Cellular Medicine, Newcastle, led by Prof. Frederic Geissmann and Prof. Matthew Collin. This project will build on the recent important discovery of a genetic mutation in half of LCH samples tested.
This mutation (BRAF V600E), found in several human tumor types, alters the transmission of signals from the cell surface to the nucleus. In their project, Professors Geissmann and Collin are exploring how the mutation affects the behaviour of Langerhans cells and whether it is found in other types in LCH patients.