Cancer Research UK–Children with Cancer UK Innovation Awards

Cancer Research UK and Children with Cancer UK are joining forces to fund five teams of world-leading scientists. Each team has been awarded up to £1 million to delve into the biology of children’s and young people’s cancers.

Cancer Research UK and Children with Cancer UK joint logo

Cancer in children and young people is different to cancer in adults

Our joint £4.3 million funding with Cancer Research UK for Children & Young People is for innovative new research that will give a much-needed turbo-boost to research into children’s and young people’s cancer.

Cancer in children and young people is different to cancer in adults. Despite improvements in overall survival in the last 40 years, cancer remains the leading cause of death by disease in children and young people (aged 1-24) in the UK**.

These Cancer Research UK–Children with Cancer UK Innovation Awards will help researchers to gain a better understanding of cancer in children find new ways to prevent and treat these complex cancers.

**Public Health England (2021), Children, teenagers and young adults UK cancer statistics report 2021, can be downloaded from http://ncin.org.uk/
Mother and son

Joining forces allows us to fund more research

Five research teams have received awards of up to £1m over three years through the Cancer Research UK–Children with Cancer UK Innovation Awards.

As two of the biggest independent funders of children’s and young people’s cancer research in the UK, joining forces allows us to fund more research into children’s and young people’s cancers and accelerate our progress to improve survival.

These five exciting research projects are innovative, complex and varied and will, we hope, bring important advances in the diagnosis and treatment of cancer in children and young people.

This funding represents the dawning of a new age

Michelle Mitchell, chief executive of Cancer Research UK, said: “We are thrilled to be working with Children with Cancer UK in co-funding the Innovation Awards. This funding represents the dawning of a new age of investment into cancers that affect children and young people, and the awards are a key part of our research strategy.

“We hope this funding boost will build momentum in the field to improve our understanding of these types of cancer and ultimately lead to fewer children and young people losing their lives to this disease.”

Dr Nick Goulden, Trustee of Children with Cancer UK, said: “Scientific research, largely funded by charities, has underpinned the massive improvement in survival for children and young people with cancer seen over the last 30 years. This exciting collaboration allows Children with Cancer UK to maximise the impact of this precious funding toward our ultimate goal of ensuring that every child and young adult with cancer is cured.”

We are thrilled to be working with Children with Cancer UK in co-funding the Innovation Awards.

We’re co-funding  five exciting new research projects

  • Understanding why some children inherit a greater risk of developing cancer.Professor Richard Houlston
    Professor Richard Houlston at The Institute of Cancer Research, London, will lead a team to identify previously unknown inherited gene mutations that increase a child’s chances of getting cancer. This work could determine new ways to monitor children with these mutations, allowing doctors to diagnose cancer sooner and to better tailor each child’s treatment and care.
    Read more
  • Understanding why chromosome duplication occurs in the cells of Professor Christine Harrison3children with cancer, and if it can be used when designing new treatments.
    Professors Christine Harrison, Jonathan Higgins and Steve Clifford at Newcastle University will lead a team investigating a phenomenon where cancer cells of children and young people gain chromosomes, known as aneuploidy. This is found in many types of childhood cancers, and by understanding why this happens, they hope to find new ways to prevent and treat them.
    Read more
  • Developing a new way to treat a type of acute lymphoblasticleukaemia (ALL) using the immune system. Dr Anindita Roy
    A form of ALL known as Mixed Lineage Leukaemia (MLL) gene rearranged infant ALL (MLLr-iALL) has poor survival. CAR T-cell therapy, which uses modified versions of a patient’s T cells to attack their cancer, is often used to treat leukaemia. But using this potentially life-saving treatment in very young patients is limited. This is because it’s very difficult to obtain T cells from them, as these patients have already gone through intensive chemotherapy and are often immunocompromised. Dr Anindita Roy at the University of Oxford, and Professor Anastasios Karadimitris of Imperial College London, plan to test a new way of treating the disease by adapting this therapy to use a different type of immune cell called invariant natural killer T (iNKT) cells that can be taken ‘off the shelf’. They hope this CAR-iNKT cell therapy will be a more effective way of treating these very young patients.
    Read more
  • Improving outcomes for children and young people whose ALL Marc Mansour teamrelapses after treatment.
    Survival for children and young people with ALL is high, but the outlook is poor if treatment doesn’t work and the cancer comes back. Professor Marc Mansour, Dr David O’Connor, Dr Jack Bartram and Professor Owen Williams of University College London and Great Ormond Street Hospital for Children are investigating the causes behind ALL coming back, which has been historically difficult because relapse is rare. By establishing a nationwide study, the team hope to develop new ways of treating relapsed patients and predicting which patients are at higher risk of their cancer returning in the first place.
    Read more
  • Identifying new targets to treat rhabdomyosarcoma (RMS), askeletal muscle cancer, by investigating its foetal origins.
    Dr Sam Behjati2The biology of RMS is largely unexplored, but is thought to originate from cells in the foetus that develop incorrectly. Some of these cells persist in children with RMS when usually they wouldn’t. Dr Sam Behjati at the Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute, and Dr Karin Straathof at University College London, want to understand why this happens by building a cell ‘atlas’ – a complete guide to the cells that form RMS. They hope that understanding how RMS develops will help bring to light new targets for treatment.
    Read more

More information about cancer in children and young people

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