We’re proud to be providing £3.74m funding for Precision Medicine, targeting less toxic cancer treatments. In July 2017, we began funding £1.5m for Precision Medicine research, targeting less toxic cancer treatments. In October 2018, we were proud to increase our Precision Medicine funding to £3.74m.

Precision Medicine is an exciting new way to deliver cancer treatment to children. It takes into account individual variations in genes, environment and lifestyle. Precision therapies target specific changes in individual patients’ tumour DNA, allowing for more effective treatments while reducing toxic side effects.

Bringing Precision Medicine to young cancer patients in the UK

This treatment approach to young cancer patients has been applied in parts of the USA and Europe with some success. But, until now, efforts in the UK have been somewhat ad hoc – largely due to lack of development funding in the NHS. We want to drive forward the implementation of Precision Medicine for young cancer patients in the UK.

Project Details

  • Project Title

    Research into a comprehensive and structured approach to genetic testing to match children with cancer to specific targeted treatments

  • Lead Researcher

    Professor Louis Chesler

  • Research Centre

    The Institute of Cancer Research

  • City & Institution Postcode


  • Start Date

    1 July 2017

  • Duration

    36 months

  • Grant Amount

    £3.74 million

Professor Louis Chesler

Precision medicine explained

Louis and Grace explain Precision Medicine

You have helped us to fund £3.74m for Precision Medicine research – an exciting new way to deliver cancer treatment to children. Thank you. Little Translators Louis and Grace explain this research in their video.

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Children with Cancer UK is helping to fund the development of a national infrastructure for rapid sequencing of tumour DNA from young cancer patients. This will include:
  • A structure for the genetic analysis of patient tissue which will allow for highly accurate diagnosis and treatment recommendations
  • The development of a tissue bank, which will build a large source of patient samples – this is extremely valuable in childhood cancers because of their rarity
  • Establishing a hub where cancer cells are extracted from samples and analysed using a next-generation sequencing tool which provides a highly-defined genetic picture of individual tumours
  • A new bioinformatics team, which will interpret the genetic data to help decide on the best treatment and to aid discovery of new genetic signals and mutations that could be targeted
  • A national database is being set up which will allow the bioinformatics team to track the many different tumour types and how they respond to treatment, which will be a powerful aid to future treatments and prognosis
  • The development of a panel of oncology experts (known as the national molecular tumour board) who will discuss the findings of the genetic analysis and bioinformatics teams, before making informed recommendations for patient treatment. This will include assigning patients to clinical trials for new targeted drugs and therapies.
Our Chief Executive, says:
Our ambition is that all children, teenagers and young adults diagnosed with cancer in the UK have access to Precision Medicine through the NHS. This ground-breaking funding will help develop the first programme for Precision Medicine for young cancer patients in the UK. It has already started in parts of the USA and Europe.

Potential impact

It has huge potential to improve cure rates and reduce the burden of toxicity on young cancer patients – through better targeted chemotherapy, introducing advances in immunotherapy and using other evolving technologies.
  • We’ll improve our genetic understanding of childhood cancers, identifying new targets for treatment where available
  • The project will lead to more clinical trials for promising new treatments
  • The initiative will increase the amount of tissue that is banked, allowing research to access precious tumour samples.
Professor Louis Chesler of The Institute of Cancer Research says:
This funding will help us move towards a more comprehensive and structured approach to genetic testing to match children with cancer to specific targeted treatments, which could be an incredibly important step towards increasing survival and reducing the side-effects of treatment. One way to think about Precision Medicine is that we now have drugs that attack single cancer causing proteins. They don’t interfere with any normal cells or normal proteins, they just attack the tumour and they just attack the one gene or protein that really matters.
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