The importance of collaboration in research

The collaboration of charities is vital to the progression of life-changing cancer research.  It allows for increased funding across a number of ground-breaking projects as well as stimulating knowledge sharing amongst some of the world’s leading researchers. 

Children with Cancer UK has established partnerships across the paediatric and young adult cancer community and we continue to seek out further opportunities to collaborate.

16 June 2022

five female researchers wearing white lab coats

From other charities to government funders, cancer organisations to universities we look for organisations who share our vision of a world where every child survives cancer.

We also encourage collaboration among the researchers we fund. For example, we have core-funded the Children’s Brain Tumour Drug Delivery Consortium and co-funded INSTINCT, a network across three of the UK’s leading paediatric neuro-oncology centres working to improve treatments for patients with high-risk childhood brain tumours.

Christiana Ogunbote, Research Grants Manager, at Children with Cancer UK said:

Collaborating with other charities is an extremely effective way of supporting significant research projects that would otherwise go unfunded. Children with Cancer UK is very proud to be able to work with other respected charities and organisations to jointly back such important projects. Over the years research continues to contribute to childhood cancer survival rates increasing from 67% to approximately 84% getting us ever closer to our vision of a world where every child and young adult survives cancer.

The following are just some of the most recent collaborations that Children with Cancer UK is proud to support:

Collaborating with other charities is an extremely effective way of supporting significant research projects that would otherwise go unfunded.

The Cancer Research UK-Children with Cancer UK Innovation Awards. 

This exciting project, a collaboration between two of the UK’s largest independent funders of research into children and young people’s cancer,  enabled five research teams in the UK to receive awards of up to £1m each over three years. 

The five projects include:

Professor Richard Houlston of The Institute of Cancer Research 

Understanding why some children inherit a greater risk of developing cancer

Professors Christine Harrison, Jonathan Higgins and Steve Clifford at Newcastle University

Understanding why chromosome duplication occurs in the cells of children with cancer and if it can be used when designing new treatments

Dr Anindita Roy at the University of Oxford and Professor Anastasios Karadimitris of Imperial College London

Developing a new way to treat a type of acute lymphoblastic leukaemia (ALL) using the immune system

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

Improving outcomes for children and young people whose ALL relapses after treatment

Dr Sam Behjati at the Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute and Dr Karin Staathof at University College London

Identifying new targets to treat rhabdomyosarcoma (RMS), a skeletal muscle cancer by investigating its foetal origins

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.

This funding represents the dawning of a new age of investment into cancers that affect children and young people.

Combating medulloblastoma (MB), the most common high-grade brain tumour in children 

Children with Cancer UK, alongside charity co-funders Blue Skye Thinking and Little Hero, also set up by families affected by childhood cancer, are supporting this new landmark research programme that began earlier this year (2022).

The ‘iNSTINCT-MB project, led by Professor Steve Clifford at Newcastle University aims to develop more effective treatments of medulloblastoma, which currently results in approximately 30% of childhood sufferers dying. Additionally many children who do survive brain tumour treatment, which can be aggressive, can often be left with life-limiting disabilities.

Sally Hall, Founder and Trustee of Blue Skye Thinking said:

Our journey has been a difficult one but my son Skye’s goodness shone through and was incandescently bright in contrast to this horrid disease and subsequent side effects of his treatment. He soon became paralysed from the neck down and was diagnosed with radio-chemo neurotoxity which had been brought on by the therapies he had endured and tragically died soon after.  The collaboration our charity has been a part of will allow a more personalised and targeted treatment approach that Professor Clifford and his ground-breaking team of researchers are offering is an incredible feat in progressive science which elicits significant hope for children of the future.

John Rainsbury, Trustee of Little Hero and father to Will said

Will was incredibly brave as he underwent the UK’s ‘Gold Standard’ treatment for high risk Medulloblastoma. Unfortunately it can prove surprisingly ineffective and currently there are no alternatives that children in this high risk group can try. This programme, that we are proud to have been able to jointly fund the research of Professor Steve Clifford and his team, provides us with real hope of progress for future generations of patients. I wish Steve and his team the best of luck!

This programme, that we are proud to have been able to jointly fund the research of Professor Steve Clifford and his team, provides us with real hope of progress for future generations of patients.

Brain Tumour Consortium

Children with Cancer UK provided significant funding to enable the creation of the Children’s Brain Tumour Drug Delivery Consortium (CBTDDC), chaired by Dr Ruman Rahman (University of Nottingham). This is an experienced group of international researchers and clinicians, collaborating to speed up advances in translational and clinical research, particularly with respect to drug delivery in childhood brain tumours – the biggest cancer killer in children and young adults.

This is the first time that there has been global coordination of paediatric brain tumour research with a drug delivery focus. Creation of this consortium has raised awareness of the need to consider delivery methods when designing treatments for childhood brain tumours. It is also fostering the sharing of knowledge and expertise that is vital to find new and improved drug delivery systems capable of bypassing the blood-brain barrier, which is one of the main reasons that current therapies for childhood brain tumours fail.

Dr Emma Campbell, CBTDDC Project Manager, said:

The funding from Children with Cancer UK was vital to setting up our consortium, which now collaborates with a range of stakeholders, including researchers, clinicians, policy makers, biotech companies, public and patient groups, and regulatory bodies. To make progress in combating childhood brain tumours, we must work together. Over 200 researchers from 25 different countries have joined our consortium; these international and multi-disciplinary collaborations offer unrivalled opportunities for sharing ideas and resources.

To make progress in combating childhood brain tumours, we must work together.

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