Results of UKALL 2003
The previous childhood ALL trial, UKALL 2003, closed in March 2010 after six years.
As part of UKALL 2003, doctors pioneered a new technique known as minimal residual disease (MRD) testing
As part of UKALL 2003, doctors pioneered a new technique known as minimal residual disease (MRD) testing to determine how well children were responding to treatment and to predict how likely they were to relapse.
This enabled them to tailor each child’s treatment – so that only children at high risk of relapse were given the most intensive treatment.
Since the treatments used for leukaemia carry the risk of some serious side effects, it is important that children are not given more treatment than they need.
MRD testing now takes place routinely during the treatment of children with ALL, with the costs now borne by the NHS. It is thought that this innovation will push the survival rate above 90 per cent.
And, importantly, it will also protect children with lower risk leukaemia from the harmful side-effects associated with high doses of chemotherapy.