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.

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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Infections and the development of childhood leukaemia

Isabelle Gore 14 September 2015
Dr Ian Hampson and Dr Lynne Hampson, University of Manchester

Exposure to infection has long being implicated as a cause of childhood leukaemia but no specific infection has ever been identified. Dr Hampson is using new and unique methodology to try to pinpoint the causal infection. This could have important implications for prevention as well as having diagnostic and prognostic value. 

Amount of grant: £190,204 | Date of award: May 2015  Overview The proposed work will make an important contribution by looking intensively and systematically for evidence of a role for infectious agents in ALL aetiology.
Positive results would have a sign...
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Molecular tracking of treatment response in childhood AML

Isabelle Gore 14 September 2015
Professor David Grimwade, King’s College London

The use of MRD testing has helped improve the outlook for children with ALL by enabling treatment to be tailored to each individual child. The technique has been less successful in AML, with detectable genetic changes identifiable in only 60 per cent of children. The key aim of this project is to characterise the genetic mutations present in the remaining 40 per cent of cases, who currently have a worse prognosis. This will enable improved treatment strategies.

This project is being funded with the support of The Aila Coull Foundation.

Amount of grant: £238,325 | Date of award: May 2015 Over...
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