This national clinical trial for children with the form of leukaemia known as acute lymphoblastic leukaemia (ALL) is building on the success of a previous trial. This pioneered a ground-breaking technique that placed children in treatment groups according to the levels of leukaemic cells. This new trial will help more children by monitoring the effect of changes to the treatment regime.
Our funding is supporting the latest in a series of clinical trials that aims to develop new ways of treating children living with the most common form of childhood leukaemia.
Dr Pamela Kearns
University of Birmingham
Birmingham B15 2TT
1 April 2012
Clinical trials help us find better ways of treating disease by giving doctors the opportunity to test new treatments. Thanks to a series of childhood leukaemia trials, we’ve made enormous progress in treating the disease.
Most children with leukaemia in the UK will be given the opportunity to take part in a clinical trial, and as part of the trial called UKALL 2003, doctors pioneered a technique called minimal residual disease (MRD) testing. This helped to determine how well children responded to treatment, predicted how likely they were to relapse, and enabled doctors to tailor each child’s treatment.
We’re now building on the success on UKALL 2003, and this exciting new trial is helping more young people by monitoring the effect of changes to their individual treatment regimes.
With this trial, we’re building on the incredible success of earlier work – this enabled doctors to develop and refine treatment programmes for children with different types of leukaemia and risk factors.
The latest trial will take the technique of minimal residual disease (MRD) testing and use it to monitor the effectiveness of a change to the chemotherapy regime for young people with the commonest form of childhood leukaemia, which is known as ALL.
Doctors will use a drug called dexamethasone at a much earlier stage in treatment. Evidence suggests that this will reduce the number of children who relapse on treatment. It will also protect those children with lower risk leukaemia from the harmful side-effects associated with high doses of chemotherapy.
Dr Pamela Kearns is the Director of the Cancer Research UK Clinical Trials Unit (CRCTU) at the University of Birmingham. The CRCTU is one of the largest cancer trial units in the UK and is also home to the Children’s Cancer and Leukaemia Group portfolio of clinical trials.
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