Dr Bela Wrench

Dr Bela Wrench

Centre: Haemato-Oncology
  • Bloodwise Senior Bennett Fellow
  • Bloodwise Clinician Scientist Intermediate Fellowship
Clinical Senior Lecturer, Senior Bennett fellow
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My research focuses on the fundamental aspects of leukaemia initiating cell biology in adult acute lymphoblastic leukaemia.

Research Details

Leukaemia initiating cells (LIC) are the functional constituents of primary tumours that are required for initiation and maintenance of leukaemic growth.

Current therapies fail to target these deleterious LICs resulting in persistently high rates of treatment failure. My group's overarching aim is to gain fundamental insight into the underlying biology of LICs with the aim of revealing dependencies that could lead to their targeted elimination.

My recent work established the dominance of “niche” derived factors in driving LIC activity over cell intrinsic oncogenes providing a rationale for niche based therapy. Our ongoing studies aim to evolve our understanding of the role of microenvironment in determining the tumoral phenotypes of LIC’s, in particular cellular dormancy, an essential mechanism conferring chemo protection.

Using tractable xenotransplanation models, cellular imaging, high resolution genomics and proteomics, we aim to provide a comprehensive and coherent portrait of the complex biology of ALL- LICs with the overall aim of informing strategies for minimising leukaemia recurrence.

My laboratory interests are complimented by my clinical expertise in adult ALL (Honorary Consultant, Dept of Haemato-Oncology, St Bartholomew’s hospital). I am a member of the National Cancer Research Institute adult ALL subgroup which leads the UK’s clinical trial portfolio.

Also in this group:

  • Mr Nicholas Warrick - Research Technician


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 a clinical senior lecturer to establish my own research group.


  • Bloodwise Senior Bennett Fellow
  • Cancer Research UK Programme Grant
  • 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, 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, 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, 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, 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

For additional publications, click here.

My research focuses on the fundamental aspects of leukaemia initiating cell biology in adult acute lymphoblastic leukaemia.

External Activities

  • Member of the National Cancer Institute Adult ALL subgroup


 April 2015: Awarded the prestigious Bennett Fellowship by Leukaemia & Lymphoma Research

See other researchers working on:

Blood cancers Clinical Trials Leukaemia Stem Cells
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