£1.5 million for childhood cancer research




Thanks to your support, we recently awarded 11 new grants for research projects that will help us to understand the causes of childhood cancer.

Selected from amongst the 34 projects originally submitted, these 11 projects represent the very best hope of advancing our knowledge about the causes of childhood cancer.

£1.5 million to investigate the causes of childhood cancer All of the projects were rigorously assessed by members of our grant panel, assisted by external experts from around the world.

The 11 projects selected for funding are judged to have great scientific merit and represent the very best hope of advancing our knowledge about the causes of childhood cancer.

Research into the causes of childhood cancer is a broad field. The new grants include research into possible environmental and lifestyle factors as well as the underlying biological mechanisms by which childhood cancers develop.

It is crucial that we understand what aspects of our modern lifestyle may be responsible for the increasing incidence of childhood cancers. With improved knowledge we may be able to reverse this alarming trend.

Meanwhile, advances in our understanding of the mechanisms underlying childhood cancers are giving a better insight into more effective ways of treating them.

Professor Kathy Pritchard-Jones, Institute of Child Health, London    £283,597Molecular evolution of Wilms tumour

Certain damaged genes are known to play a role in the origin of Wilms tumour but these known genes are damaged only in a minority of tumours. Professor Pritchard-Jones will use new technologies to look for genetic mutations in 50 Wilms tumours and work out whether they may have played a role in the development of the tumour or occurred later.

Read more: Research into the molecular evolution of Wilms tumour

Dr Robert Newton, University of York    £102,129Infection and cancer among children in sub-Saharan Africa

Dr Newton is studying the impact of HIV infection on the risk of cancer in children in a continuation of a programme of work in sub-Saharan Africa. This work will help to identify which childhood cancers may have a link with infection (with HIV as well as other infections).

Read more: Research into infection and cancer among children in sub-Saharan Africa
   
Dr K J Patel, MRC Laboratory of Molecular Biology    £300,000Roles of aldehyde metabolism and DNA crosslink repair in fetal genome stability and leukaemogenesis

Dr Patel is looking at the impact of exposure to substances called aldehydes (which originate from dietary sources such as alcohol as well as natural metabolic processes) on normal fetal development and their possible role in the generation of childhood leukaemia.

Read more: Mechanisms of protection against genetic damage in utero
   
Dr Jude Fitzgibbon, Queen Mary University of London    £17,682The genetics of familial leukaemia

In most cases, leukaemia is not an inherited disease, however there are some instances where several members of the same family have developed leukaemia. With part-funding from Children with Cancer UK, Dr Fitzgibbon will search for genetic abnormalities in these families.

Read more: Research into the genetics of familial leukaemia
   
Professor Irene Roberts, Imperial College London    £205,373Global RNA profiles of trisomic, pre-leukaemic and leukaemic haemopoietic cells in Down syndrome

Children with Down syndrome (DS) have a greatly increased risk of developing leukaemia. Professor Roberts is trying to identify the genetic mechanisms that underlie this increased risk.

Read more: Research into the increased risk of leukaemia in children with Down syndrome
   
Dr Kate O’Neill, University of Oxford    £150,000Investigating in utero exposures as possible origins of childhood cancers

Childhood leukaemia is thought to be associated with maternal and fetal exposure to infection during pregnancy. To explore this further, Dr O’Neill will analyse stored blood samples from pregnant mothers and their newborns for evidence of viral infection, and compare results between babies who did and did not develop leukaemia.

Read more: Investigating in utero exposures as possible origins of childhood cancers
   
Dr Owen Williams, Institute of Child Health, London    £177,870The molecular basis for the impact of infectious exposure on the development of childhood leukaemia

Many children diagnosed with leukaemia have a single genetic abnormality in common. This abnormality does not in itself cause leukaemia and it has been suggested that an abnormal pattern of exposure to infection may trigger blood cells carrying the genetic abnormality to become leukaemic. Dr Williams will test this theory in the laboratory.

Read more: Testing the role played by infectious exposure in childhood leukaemia development
   
Dr Michael Murphy, University of Oxford    £35,915Record-based case-control study of childhood cancer and natural ionising radiation exposure

It is known that exposure to radiation can cause childhood leukaemia, however evidence on the induction of leukaemia and other childhood cancers from doses incurred at rates typical of environmental exposures is lacking. Dr Murphy will use data on more than 50,000 cases of childhood cancer to take forward our understanding.

Read more: Research into natural radiation exposure and childhood cancer
     
Charles Stiller, University of Oxford    £71,585Why do increasing numbers of second cancers occur within five years after diagnosis of childhood cancer?

Childhood cancer survivors face an increased risk of developing a second cancer, which may develop soon after the initial cancer has been treated. The reasons for the increased risk are not well understood but are likely to be related to the treatment given for the primary cancer. This study will help us to understand the risks.

Read more: Research into the increased risk of developing a second cancer
   
Professor Deborah Tweddle, University of Newcastle upon Tyne    £68,255From human embryonic stem cells to sympathetic neurones: a model for understanding neuroblastoma pathogenesis

Neuroblastoma arises from cells in the developing embryo which form a temporary structure called the neural crest which then goes on to form the sympathetic nervous system. Professor Tweddle will develop a model of normal human sympathetic nervous system development to advance understanding of how neuroblastomas form.

Read more: Research into developing a model of neuroblastoma
   
Dr Michael Murphy, University of Oxford    £63,952Resurrection of the database of the Oxford Survey of Childhood Cancers as a research resource and its use to investigate x-ray exposure

The Oxford Survey of Childhood Cancers collected data over three decades from the 1950s, producing the data which demonstrated the association between antenatal x-rays and childhood cancer. Dr Murphy will check, document and preserve the database, using the data to investigate unanswered questions relating to exposure to low level radiation.

Read more: Investigating the association between antenatal x-rays and childhood cancer


It is crucial that we understand what causes cancer in children.


Earlier this year, we invited UK researchers to apply for funding for projects which will advance our understanding of childhood cancers.

Improving our understanding of how childhood cancer develops will give us an insight into better ways of preventing and treating the disease.

The awards have now been made.
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