£1.4 million to support 8 new childhood cancer projects
We are pleased to announce the award of eight new grants out of our 2014/15 project grant round, representing a total commitment of £1.4 million.
These eight projects were selected from amongst 42 submissions, based on assessment by our Scientific Advisory Panel with input from dozens of external reviewers.
The funded projects cover a range of childhood cancers including leukaemia, brain tumours, sarcomas, neuroblastoma and Wilms’ tumour.
The projects will take forward our understanding of these diseases and help improve the outlook for young patients.
Read more: Peer review and assessment processes
Developing immunotherapy for childhood sarcomas
Professor John Anderson, UCL Institute of Child Health, London £181,213
Immunotherapy is emerging as an important new line of defence against childhood cancers that do not respond to chemotherapy. Success has already been achieved in the treatment of children with leukaemia and neuroblastoma using immunotherapy techniques. Professor Anderson and colleagues now aim to extend these techniques to the treatment of childhood sarcomas.
Read more: Developing immunotherapy for childhood sarcomas
Advanced MRI scanning for improved diagnosis in Wilms’ tumours
Professor Chris Clark, UCL Institute of Child Health £88,559
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.
Read more: Advanced MRI scanning for improved diagnosis in Wilms’ tumours
Molecular tracking of treatment response in childhood AML
Professor David Grimwade, King’s College London £238,325
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.
Read more: Molecular tracking of treatment response in childhood AML
Infections and the development of childhood leukaemia
Dr Ian Hampson, University of Manchester £190,204
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.
Read more: Infections and the development of childhood leukaemia
Identification of cancer stem cell markers in paediatric glioblastomas
Professor Martin Leach, The Institute of Cancer Research £235,854
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.
Read more: Identification of cancer stem cell markers in paediatric glioblastomas
Improved radiation treatment of neuroblastoma
Professor Rob Mairs, University of Glasgow £189,043
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.
Read more: Improved radiation treatment of neuroblastoma
Fertility preservation in pre-pubertal boys treated for cancer
Dr Rod Mitchell, University of Edinburgh £249,435
One of the major long-term effects of cancer treatment in young males is infertility. This project aims to establish the first UK 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.
Read more: Fertility preservation in pre-pubertal boys treated for cancer
Refining our knowledge about the genetic causes of leukaemia
Dr Elspeth Payne, UCL Cancer Institute £52,500
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.
Read more: Refining our knowledge about the genetic causes of leukaemia