The UCL Institute of Child Health (ICH) was named as a Centre of Excellence by the national blood cancer charity Leukaemia & Lymphoma Research.
Leukaemia & Lymphoma Research has over £1.5 million currently invested in world-class research into childhood leukaemia and lymphoma at the ICH.
Pioneering projects funded by the charity at the Centre, which is connected to Great Ormond Street Hospital for Children (GOSH), include research in the area of immunotherapy - an exciting new treatment that genetically engineers the patient’s own immune systems to fight cancer.
It represents a new hope for children with blood cancers who cannot be cured using conventional chemotherapy.
The ICH’s unveiling as a Centre of Excellence is part of the charity’s plans to focus investment in leading research institutions across the UK.
The Centre, based on Guilford Street, Bloomsbury, is particularly poignant for Leukaemia & Lymphoma Research, as it is there that the charity started 50 years ago, when childhood leukaemia was a virtual death sentence.
Thanks to investments made in research, nine out of ten children now survive the most common form of leukaemia.
Of the seven research projects currently funded by the charity at the ICH, several are developing ‘gene therapy’ treatment, a type of immunotherapy for children with leukaemia and non-Hodgkin lymphoma.
Administered by vaccination, the modified immune cells could provide a life-long cure, as they train the immune system to recognise cancer cells that reappear after treatment, preventing disease relapse.
Researchers at ICH work closely with doctors at GOSH to ensure that any breakthroughs in diagnosis and treatment are delivered to childhood blood cancer patients across London as soon as possible.
Clinical trials are vital in this process and Leukaemia & Lymphoma Research have recently invested in a new trial due to start at the Hospital, which will test a new complementary immunotherapy treatment for those children with high risk leukaemia who need to undergo a bone marrow transplant.
Cathy Gilman, Chief Executive of Leukaemia & Lymphoma Research, said: “The Institute of Child Health and Great Ormond Street Hospital truly is a ‘Centre of Excellence’, with pioneering projects giving hope to children who do not respond to current treatments.”
Dr Owen Williams, lecturer in haematology at the ICH, said: “We’re delighted to have been named as one of Leukaemia & Lymphoma Research’s Centres of Excellence.
"The ICH is carrying out some world-class research into childhood blood cancers and the support of charities such as Leukaemia & Lymphoma Research is vital to keep this going.”