Two charities co-fund £5.5m childhood cancer research programme

SMPaeds2 aims to advance precision medicines for children with relapsed cancer

Cancer Research UK (CRUK) and Children with Cancer UK have announced £5.5m to co-fund a new childhood cancer research programme.

The Stratified Medicine Paediatrics 2 (SMPaeds2) programme aims to advance precision medicines for children and young people with relapsed cancer.

Cancer is one of the leading causes of death for children aged zero to 14 years in the UK, with more than eight in ten children surviving after being diagnosed.

For children and young people, due to childhood tumours having fewer genetic changes in comparison to adult tumours, barriers to the development and availability of precision cancer medicines currently exist.

Building upon the Stratified Medicine Paediatrics (SMPaeds1), SMPaeds2 will investigate blood cancers and solid tumours in paediatric and young patients, particularly in tumours that are more difficult to access, diagnose and treat, including the brain, muscle and bone.

Findings will offer scientists valuable insights into the biology of relapsed childhood cancers, as well as aiding precision medicine with the potential to develop new and better precision therapies.

In collaboration with the Institute of Cancer Research, Great Ormond Street Hospital for Children NHS Foundation Trust and the European Molecular Biology Laboratory’s European Bioinformatics Institute, SMPaeds2 will work alongside the NHS to develop liquid-based cancer tests that work in blood and other body fluids.

The team aims to reduce the need for invasive biopsies and, within five years, hopes to provide new tests to improve detection and predictions of childhood cancer relapses.

This could also improve how doctors monitor patients’ responses to treatment in real-time, allowing changes or adaptations to the treatment approach if needed.

Jo Elvin, chief executive officer at Children with Cancer UK, said: “SMPaeds2 will support the development of next-generation clinical trials to help deliver more effective, targeted treatment.”

Michelle Mitchell, chief executive officer at CRUK, explained that the programme “will allow patients to continue to be matched to the best possible treatment for their individual cancer… and help develop new and better treatments for children and young people”.

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