Our progress against childhood cancer
ICR researchers working with our partner hospital The Royal Marsden NHS Foundation Trust have led major studies and clinical trials of new drugs that have changed the standard of care in neuroblastoma – the most commonly fatal solid tumours in children.
For example, an ICR team headed by Professor Louis Chesler found that the drug fadraciclib, jointly discovered at the ICR, which had already passed safety trials in adults, could shrink neuroblastoma tumours, almost to the point of eradicating them.
Our scientists also developed a model that helps study how neuroblastoma spreads around the body, and accurately reflects what happens in children with the disease.
Professor Chesler’s team is working to make targeted drugs and medicines more accessible for childhood cancers, so that children can get the same benefits from these therapies as adults. Professor Chesler also helped to develop a gene test to improve how well we match patients to targeted drugs, which is now part of NHS practice. This work was made possible by funding from our family charity partners, such as Christopher’s Smile.
Professor Chris Jones led the largest and most comprehensive study to date of infant glioma, an aggressive type of brain tumour, which found that these tumours are biologically distinct from other childhood tumours and can be treated with targeted drugs.
We were also involved in research that revealed specific genetic changes underlying the development of rhabdomyosarcoma and affecting patients’ chances of survival. Professor Janet Shipley led the international study that could inform new ways to tailor treatment for patients.
Cancers of unmet need
We are making progress in new treatments for relatively under-studied or uncommon cancers affecting children and young adults, including:
- High grade gliomas, including glioblastoma and DIPG
- Ewing’s sarcoma
- Malignant rhabdoid tumour
- Desmoplastic small round cell tumour
Our research into these tumours is often made possible thanks to our network of passionate family charity partners, such as Abbie's Fund, who have been touched by cancer themselves.
Abbie Shaw was diagnosed with Adrenal Neuroblastoma before her second birthday. She sadly passed away at just 5 years old.
By supporting our research, the fundraising efforts of our charity partners are leading to unprecedented insights into these diseases. As a UK charity, our world-leading research relies on the donations of individuals and organisations to further our work.
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