Leukaemia and L...
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Children in clinical research - our view

Leukaemia and L...
Posted by
14 May 2015

Following a report published today by the Nuffield Council for Bioethics, here is our view on children and clinical research:

Research in the blood cancer field has found real clinical benefit in carrying out research on children for children. Child patients often need very different treatment approaches to adults, as demonstrated by the dramatic improvements in survival for the most common form of childhood leukaemia - improvements which haven’t been as vast in adults.

It is vital that children are not left out of the revolution that we are beginning to see with precision medicine, where treatments are tailored to the specific needs of individual patients to ensure the least toxic, most effective therapies are used. Children affected by blood cancer are a prime group where less toxic and gruelling treatment options are urgently needed.

Unfortunately, the pharmaceutical industry tends to be less interested in carrying out research to develop new therapies for childhood cancers. The numbers of children affected, even in the most common form of childhood cancer, are relatively small, and the regulatory framework complex, which is potentially off-putting.

Consequently there tends to be more focus on developing newer, less toxic biological therapies for the more common adult cancers, such as breast and lung, to the detriment of children’s long-term health and quality of life. This needs to change, fast.