Last night our charity’s president Sir Ian Botham took to the ice to meet children who have survived leukaemia at a special event at Canary Wharf Ice Rink in support of Beefy’s Great British Walk 2012.
Sir Ian first started fundraising for Leukaemia & Lymphoma Research in 1985 when the survival rates for leukaemia, the most common form of childhood cancer, were as low one in five children.
Since then Beefy has taken on 13 charity walks across the UK and raised more than £13 million to beat childhood blood cancer, and now more than nine in ten children survive the most common form, acute lymphoblastic leukaemia (ALL).
Leukaemia & Lymphoma Research have invested money raised by these walks into vital research to save more children’s lives.
Professor Mel Greaves, supported by Leukaemia & Lymphoma Research, has been a major contributor to the remarkable breakthroughs made in the last 25 years.
When Professor Greaves began researching this disease in the late 1970s nothing was really know about the biology of childhood leukaemia which made it very difficult to develop better treatments. Pioneering research such as his has been invaluable to the improvements in treatments we see today.
In 2008 Professor Greaves was the first to identify stem cells in childhood leukaemia, which gave us essential insight into how this disease develops.
Now we are investing a further £250,000 into Professor Greaves’ research that is focused on understanding the genetic origins of leukaemia stem cells in children.
His work suggests that many children are born with leukaemia-like stem cells in their blood but only a small proportion of these go on to develop full-blown leukaemia.
New research shows that leukaemia evolves through a series of genetic mutations that are acquired in a very specific order. Professor Greaves is determined to understand the nature of this evolution, giving new hope of treating childhood leukaemia in the early stages and sparing children years of harsh treatment.
Tilly – Science Communications team