Life course immunology case study

Treating the untreatable in allergic, infectious and immune diseases.

Aimee Drew was only five years old when she died after developing an aggressive and rapidly progressing lymphoma following glandular fever. Doctors tried hard to treat her cancer but didn’t have the specialist knowledge to get to the root of her underlying health issues caused by a faulty gene.

The Aimee Drew Trust

Soon after her death, Aimee’s parents Suzanne and Ian formed the Aimee Drew Trust. Over more than 20 years they have worked tirelessly with family and friends, as well as clinicians at Royal Manchester Children’s Hospital, The University of Manchester and hospital trust executives to raise more than £100,000.

Their fundraising resulted in the establishment of a clinical academic paediatric allergy, infectious disease and immunology centre in Manchester.

Understanding the cause of disease

The genetic and biological basis of Aimee’s disease has now been unravelled and at this stage is thought to be a disease unique to people from north-west England.

CTPS1 deficiency occurs because immune cells give up their ability to protect against the glandular fever and chickenpox viruses, leading to devastating consequences (Martin E. et al, Nature, 2014). Other children have since been correctly diagnosed with this condition and completely cured by bone marrow transplantation.

Turning a tragedy like this into an internationally recognised, specialist healthcare service with far-reaching impact is what translational medicine is all about in its widest sense.

Life course immunology has many more lessons to teach us, and many more allergic and immune diseases to unravel effectively and completely.

CTPS1 deficiency has taught us that giving up is not an option. There is strength in working together: a reputation that Manchester is always proud to continue and develop.