2016 project grants


Research laboratory

£1.6 million to fund 10 new childhood cancer projects

With your generous support we have awarded £1.6 million to fund 10 important new research projects.

Selected by our Scientific Advisory Panel on the basis of scientific merit and potential impact, these projects cover a range of cancer types – including brain tumours, lymphoma, leukaemia, neuroblastoma and rhabdomyosarcoma. The 10 projects will take forward our understanding of these cancers, how they develop and how we can treat them more effectively.

We will be following their progress closely over the next three years.

Read more: Peer review and assessment processes

Sequencing the unsequenceable: investigating uncharted genomic sequences in childhood leukaemia

Professor Christine Harrison, Newcastle University     £55,022
Around 10 per cent of the human genome remains unexplored, with some of the uncharted regions believed to play a role in the development of childhood cancer. In this pilot project, Professor Harrison and Dr Sarra Ryan are developing revolutionary, state-of-the-art technologies to explore this region for the first time, to improve our understanding of how childhood cancer develops and how it may be prevented.

Read more: Investigating uncharted genomic sequences in childhood leukaemia

Understanding treatment-resistance and disease-spread in childhood gliomas

Professor Chris Jones, The Institute of Cancer Research     £258,458
Paediatric glioblastoma and diffuse intrinsic pontine glioma are two of the most terrible forms of brain tumour to affect children, both incurable using existing treatments. The aim of this project is to advance understanding of how these tumours resist treatment and spread through the brain. This ultimately leads to the possibility of identifying new drugs that will improve the outcome for young patients with these tumours.

Read more: Understanding treatment-resistance and disease-spread in childhood gliomas

Development of ‘seek and destroy’ system against neuroblastoma

Dr Karin Straathof, UCL Institute of Child Health, London     £251,392
Less than half of children with an aggressive form of the childhood cancer neuroblastoma can be cured, even with the most intensive treatment. Dr Karin Straathof is developing a new immunotherapy approach to target this disease. Not only should this provide a new treatment option for children who can’t currently be cured but, importantly, it should be less toxic than existing treatments.

Read more: Development of ‘seek and destroy’ system against neuroblastoma

Understanding drug-resistance mechanisms in high-risk neuroblastoma 

Dr Suzanne Turner, University of Cambridge     £223,310
Resistance to treatment has always been a major barrier to curing cancer. This project focuses on treatment resistance in a particular form of high-risk neuroblastoma and aims to proactively identify effective counter-strategies against resistant tumours with the aim of extending relapse-free survival periods.

Read more: Understanding drug-resistance mechanisms in high-risk neuroblastoma

Investigating inherited genes that are linked to development of rhabdomyosarcoma

Dr Marc Tischkowitz, University of Cambridge     £225,510
Rhabdomyosarcoma is a cancer that is difficult to treat and remains a major cause of death from cancer in childhood, with little progress having been made in recent decades. Dr Marc Tischkowitz is investigating an inherited predisposition that underlies some cases of this cancer. The aim is to aid in the earlier diagnosis, therapy and potentially even cure for children at risk or at the initial stages of developing rhabdomyosarcoma by increasing understanding of their genetic profile.

Read more: Investigating inherited genes that are linked to development of rhabdomyosarcoma

Developing new treatments for high-risk neuroblastoma

Dr Helen Bryant, University of Sheffield     £49,300
Neuroblastoma has a ‘high-risk’ form that has a poor prognosis despite intensive treatment. Some high-risk neuroblastomas have extra copies of the MYCN gene and Dr Helen Bryant wants to clarify the role of this gene. She will be testing the effects of a new drug used against ovarian cancer, as well as other similar drugs, on MYCN neuroblastoma. This will give a better understanding of this devastating tumour and potentially some new treatments in the short- to medium- term.

Read more: Developing new treatments for high-risk neuroblastoma

Can a simple blood test speed up diagnosis of Hodgkin lymphoma?

Professor Ruth Jarrett, University of Glasgow     £149,968
Hodgkin lymphoma is one of the most common cancers to occur in children and young adults. Although the cure rate is high, symptoms are often attributed to other diseases such as glandular fever, delaying diagnosis and resulting in unnecessary illness and anxiety, and possibly more intensive treatment than would otherwise be necessary. This project will explore the value of a new blood test in facilitating early diagnosis of Hodgkin lymphoma.

Read more: Can a simple blood test speed up diagnosis of Hodgkin lymphoma?

Targeting tumour spread and drug resistance in neuroblastoma

Professor Louis Chesler, The Institute of Cancer Research     £251,989
Neuroblastoma has a high-risk form that is essentially incurable. Current treatments are mostly ineffective against this form of the disease, which spreads around the body and becomes treatment resistant. Professor Chesler is exploring the mechanisms underlying disease-spread and treatment-resistance in order to develop more effective treatments.

Early detection of Constitutional Mismatch Repair Deficiency cancer syndrome

Dr Ian Carr, University of Leeds     £31,587
Constitutional Mismatch Repair Deficiency is a rare inherited cancer syndrome. Most of those affected die in childhood. Early diagnosis is important but challenging. This project should result in the development of a new diagnostic test to aid early diagnosis and thus enable earlier clinical intervention.

Read more: Early detection of Constitutional Mismatch Repair Deficiency cancer syndrome

Enabling molecular profiling in childhood cancer

Professor Louis Chesler, The Institute of Cancer Research     £125,666

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.

Read more: Enabling molecular profiling in childhood cancer

Where your money goes

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