Despite improvements in overall survival over the last 40 years, cancer remains the leading cause of death by disease in children and young people (aged 1-24) in the UK. The Cancer Research UK–Children with Cancer UK Innovation Awards will allow researchers to gain a better understanding of cancer in children, which they hope will lead to the development of better and less toxic treatments.
Professor Roy's group aims to develop a new way to treat a type of acute lymphoblastic leukaemia (ALL), known as Mixed Lineage Leukaemia (MLL) gene rearranged infant ALL (MLLr-iALL), which currently has a particularly low survival rate. CAR T-cell therapy, which uses modified versions of a patient’s T cells to attack their cancer, is often used to treat leukaemia. But using this potentially life-saving treatment in very young patients is limited, because it’s very difficult to obtain T cells from them, as these patients have already gone through intensive chemotherapy and are often immunocompromised.