Newspaper article Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)

Team Will Lead Cancer Study; Pioneering Research into Childhood Illness

Newspaper article Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)

Team Will Lead Cancer Study; Pioneering Research into Childhood Illness

Article excerpt

Byline: HELEN RAE

A PIONEERING project to research childhood cancer will take place on Tyneside - thanks in part to cash raised by hundreds of children from the region.

The Newcastle-based Northern Institute for Cancer Research has been selected to be a part of the world's largest study for treatment of childhood relapsed Acute Lymphoblastic Leukaemia (ALL). A total of 19 countries will make up the consortium and scientists in the region will collaborate with 18 teams from around the world.

The study will focus on a method known as FLOW MRD, which helps to identify extremely small quantities of leukaemic cells in children who are being treated for ALL, to gauge the effectiveness of particular treatments in individual patients.

This method has been significantly developed by North East scientists for more than a decade thanks to the help of patients and funding from the North of England's Children's Cancer Research Fund.

Money raised by the Children's Cancer Run in Newcastle went directly towards helping pay for the region's research into the condition.

It is hoped that the trial will establish the best treatment for children who relapsed following the initial course of treatment for ALL. It will involve the use and assessment of a new drug called Epratuzumab, which targets a protein commonly found in leukaemia cells.

Debbie Ackerman, 45, of Whitley Bay, knows first-hand the importance of research into childhood ALL.

Her son Andy, seven, was diagnosed with the condition in September 2011 and is halfway through his gruelling treatment.

Debbie, who also has son Max, 14, said: "It is very reassuring to know that research is being done into ALL. It is a concern that some children relapse and it is something that I think about as I'd hate it to happen to Andy.

"It makes me feel very happy to know that research is being done to help children with the condition and that studies are being carried out to help them."

Dr Julie Irving will lead the UK research at Newcastle University's Northern Institute for Cancer Research. She said: "This is the largest study in childhood leukaemia and it is an extremely exciting development. …

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