Current research projects

Children with Cancer UK is one the UK’s leading funders of research into childhood cancer.

We fund a wide range of research into childhood cancers, including research into causes, treatments and long-term effects.

Current projects are listed below.

Enabling molecular profiling in childhood cancer

Isabelle Gore 29 September 2016
Professor Louis Chesler, The Institute of Cancer Research

Detailed analysis of the genetic characteristics of a child’s tumour can give important additional information about the tumour and how best to treat it. This is called precision medicine. This project aims to put in place the necessary infrastructure to introduce the systematic testing of newly diagnosed and relapsed patients.

Amount of grant: £125,666 | Date of award: July 2016 Overview Around 1,600 children are diagnosed with cancer each year in the UK; around 80 percent of these children can be cured using existing treatment approaches. However 250 children die from cancer eve...
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Evaluation of B7H3 as a novel target for immunotherapy in childhood cancer

Isabelle Gore 24 May 2016
Dr Kathleen Birley, UCL Institute of Child Health

Kathleen Birley was awarded a Clinical Studentship in December 2015 - our first such studentship - to support her research into a new immunotherapy approach for childhood cancers.

She is focusing on a protein called B7H3 which is present on cancers including neuroblastoma and the brain tumour DIPG; it is hoped that this may represent a new target for the treatment of these cancers.

Background – the need for new treatments One of the difficulties in developing new treatments for childhood cancers is finding ways to attack the cancer cells without damaging healthy cells. This is an importa...
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Exploring new targets for the treatment of ALT positive childhood cancers

Isabelle Gore 29 January 2016
Dr David Clynes, Weatherall Institute of Molecular Medicine, University of Oxford

David was awarded a Paul O’Gorman Research Fellowship in 2015 to support a programme of research that aims to uncover new ways of treating certain childhood cancers known as ALT positive cancers. These include some devastating forms of childhood brain tumours.

His work has the potential to uncover the Achilles heel of ALT cancers, allowing for the identification and/or rational design of new tailored drugs. Background – achieving immortality Cancer occurs through the uncontrolled growth and division of cells, which eventually leads to the development of a tu...
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New MRI techniques to improve diagnosis and monitoring of childhood cancer

Isabelle Gore 29 January 2016
Dr Patrick Hales, UCL Institute of Child Health

Patrick was awarded a Paul O’Gorman Research Fellowship in 2015 to support a programme of research that aims to develop MRI techniques for the earlier identification of high-risk tumour sub-types.

The aim is to enable the early stratification of patients into different treatment groups, so that each patient receives the most appropriate level of treatment. Background – the need for early diagnosis of high-risk tumours A number of childhood cancers still carry a very poor prognosis – including the brain tumours high-grade glioma (HGG), diffuse intrinsic pontine glioma (DIPG) and medulloblasto...
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Immunotherapy for relapsed paediatric acute lymphoblastic leukaemia

Isabelle Gore 22 September 2015
Professor Persis Amrolia, UCL Institute of Child Health, London

Stem cell transplant is used as a treatment of last resort in young patients with acute lymphoblastic leukaemia (ALL) whose disease has failed to respond to or relapsed after chemotherapy. Only half of patients undergoing transplant are cured long-term, and disease relapse is the major cause of treatment failure. Professor Amrolia is pioneering the development of a new immunotherapy approach to treat relapsed ALL. If successful, this should not only improve survival but also reduce toxicity and improve quality of life for children with this disease.

Amount of grant: £300,000 | ...
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Advanced MRI scanning for improved diagnosis in Wilms’ tumours

Isabelle Gore 15 September 2015
Professor Chris Clark, UCL Institute of Child Health

Wilms’ tumour is a childhood kidney cancer, mainly affecting the under fives. There are a number of subtypes of Wilms’, some of which carry a poor prognosis, but currently diagnosis can only be made following surgery, which follows four to six weeks of pre-operative chemotherapy. This project will pioneer the use of advanced MRI techniques to determine tumour subtype, enabling a more personalised approach to the management of each child’s disease.

Amount of grant: £88,559 | Date of award: May 2015 Overview Around 80 children are diagnosed with Wilms’ tumour, a cancer of the kidney, ever...
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Identification of cancer stem cell markers in paediatric glioblastomas

Isabelle Gore 15 September 2015
Professor Martin Leach, The Institute of Cancer Research, London

Paediatric glioblastoma is a devastating brain tumour that few young patients survive. The poor outcome has been attributed in part to the presence of a population of cancer stem cells that are resistant to treatment. Professor Leach and colleagues will study the properties of these stem cells to aid the development of new treatment approaches.

Amount of grant: £235,854 | Date of award: May 2015 Overview Paediatric glioblastoma (pGBM) is an aggressive brain tumour that fewer than one in five young patients survive. Despite recent improvements in our knowledge of the biology...
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Refining our knowledge about the genetic causes of leukaemia

Isabelle Gore 15 September 2015
Dr Elspeth Payne, UCL Cancer Institute

A large number of genetic mutations have been identified in childhood AML, with any one child having between 5 and 20 mutations. The role played by these mutations, alone and in combination, is not fully understood. This project will develop a model system that will facilitate the study of these mutations. Ultimately this will aid the development of more effective treatments.

Amount of grant: £52,500 | Date of award: May 2015 Overview Acute myeloid leukaemia (AML) is the second most common form of childhood leukaemia. It has a substantially worse outlook than the more common form, acute lymphoblastic...
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Fertility preservation in pre-pubertal boys treated for cancer

Isabelle Gore 15 September 2015
Dr Rod Mitchell, University of Edinburgh

One of the major long-term effects of cancer treatment in young males is infertility. This project aims to establish a clinical service for preservation of testis tissue taken from pre-pubertal cancer patients for potential use to restore fertility in adulthood. This will be combined with a research programme investigating the effect of chemotherapy exposures on the pre-pubertal testis and the effectiveness of protective treatments.

Amount of grant: £249,435 | Date of award: May 2015 Overview This project addresses a very important problem, namely fertility preservation in pre-pubertal males.
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Improved radiation treatment of neuroblastoma

Isabelle Gore 14 September 2015
Professor Rob Mairs, University of Glasgow

Neuroblastoma is a cancer that mainly affects very young children. Patients whose neuroblastoma has spread at the time of diagnosis have a poor outlook; their disease is difficult to eradicate even with intensive treatment. This work aims to enhance the effectiveness of treatment by combining radioactive drugs currently used in neuroblastoma treatment with drugs that can sensitise neuroblastoma cells to radiation damage.

Amount of grant: £189,043 | Date of award: May 2015 
Overview Neuroblastoma is a cancer that arises in nerve tissue of infants and very young children. Although neuroblastoma ma...
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