Children’s cancer trial to take place in Newcastle

A clinical trial of children’s cancer is due to begin in Newcastle latest this year.

The Newcastle-based Northern Institute for Cancer Research (NICR) has been selected to represent the UK in the new trial, ‘IntReALL’.

The trial, involving 19 countries, will be the world’s largest international study for treatment of childhood relapsed Acute Lymphoblastic Leukaemia (ALL).

Techniques involved in the study have been developed significantly in Newcastle, with financial support from the North of England Children’s Cancer Research (NECCR) fund.

Money raised by the NECCR funds various projects and roles, including researcher Marian Case, who has contributed massively to the development of ‘FLOW MRD’ – the research method being used in IntReALL.

FLOW MRD uses a process called flow cytometry to identify extremely small quantities of leukaemic cells or Minimal Residual Disease (MRD) in children who are being treated for ALL, to gauge the effectiveness of particular treatments in individual patients.

Every year more than 100 children and young people in the region are diagnosed with cancer, most visiting the Paediatric Oncology Unit at Newcastle’s RVI for treatment.

Ms Case said: “The IntReALL trial aims to find the best treatment for children who relapse following the initial course of treatment for ALL, on a very large scale.”

Professor Josef Vormoor, Sir James Spence chair of child health at the RVI said: “One of the biggest challenges we face in the treatment of children’s cancer is the toxicity of the drugs we use to fight the disease and the severity of the side effects.

“We do not want our patients cured and then face chronic health problems or even premature death as a consequence of our treatments.

“Trials such as IntReALL enable our researchers to gather information quickly and on a huge scale, without the pooled resources the same information would likely take much longer to gather.

“It means we can use information to ensure patients are getting much more targeted, and therefore effective treatment, minimising side effects and hopefully ridding them of the disease altogether.”