Henry Winter
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Project to spare children with lymphoma from toxic treatment

Henry Winter
Posted by
13 Aug 2012

A Newcastle scientist has been granted over £760,000 by Leukaemia & Lymphoma Research for a five year project to improve the diagnosis and treatment of childhood cancer.

Dr Vikki Rand was awarded a prestigious ‘Bennett Fellowship’ by the charity to establish a research team at Newcastle University. They will use cutting-edge technology to scan the entire genome of an aggressive set of cancers known as B-cell non-Hodgkin lymphomas, in order to identify underlying genetic abnormalities within the cancer cells.

Lymphoma is the third most common cancer of children in the UK, but the clinical relevance of differences between the two main types of lymphoma, Burkitt lymphoma and diffuse large B-cell lymphoma, has still not been defined. Treatment is the same for both groups.

The team will compare the genetic data of lymphoma patients with their treatment outcome in order to identify genetic ‘markers’ for patients who do not respond to current treatment. Correspondingly, the project will also identify those children who could be treated with less intensive and toxic treatment.

Overall, 90% of children with B-cell non-Hodgkin lymphoma will now completely recover but current treatment is highly toxic and children are in hospital for extended periods. Relapse is almost always fatal, with less than 10% of children who relapse treated successfully for a second time. New drugs are desperately needed for these patients.

Dr Vikki Rand, who leads the team at the Northern Institute for Cancer Research at Newcastle University, said: “The identification of genetic factors involved in childhood lymphoma will improve our understanding of the cancer’s biology, helping us develop treatment with less toxic side-effects.”

The project will also focus on the genetics of B-cell non-Hodgkin lymphoma in Africa, where in some areas it is the most common childhood cancer. Because of resource constraints, treatment there is often less intensive.  Despite this, around half of children are still completely cured. Dr Rand is hoping to identify those patients in the UK who could be cured in this way, sparing them the often life-long side effects of toxic treatment. 

Specifically working with patients in Malawi, where an international collaboration will allow comparison of data and response to treatment. Dr Rand will also attempt to establish the genetic markers in lymphoma which determine whether a child can only be cured through intensive treatment.

Professor Chris Bunce, Research Director at Leukaemia & Lymphoma Research, said: “There is a need to identify new and gentler treatments for B-cell non-Hodgkin lymphoma in the UK. While it is currently one of the more successful treatment regimes, it is also one of the most toxic."

Newcastle University is a Leukaemia & Lymphoma Research ‘Centre of Excellence’ and the charity has over £6 million invested in 19 projects in the area.  

Comments

Anonymous
14.08.2012

Having had NHL DLBC myself and undergone extensive treatments over a 20 month period, my fear is always of it coming back - but perhaps, more importantly there being a genetic link and my children developing it.

I wish Dr Vikki Rand and her team many wishes in the hope that they discover new ways of treating this.

 

Good Luck and also a well done to Proff Chris Bunce and his team for the project award

 

Many Thanks,

 

Peter Thomas

Carmarthenshire

Anonymous
14.08.2012

My 8 year old son has just been treated for Nodular Lymphocyte Predominate Hodkins Lymphoma which transformed to a Diffuse Large B Cell Non-Hodgkins Lymphoma stage 4 group C and is currently in remission since April 2012. 

I fully support what you are doing and wish you the very best with your research, hopefully in the future children will not have to go through the intense chemotherapy my son has gone through. I just pray to God his lymphoma does not come back and that treatment can be developed to improve the chances of children like my son if the cancer does come back.

If there is anything we can do to help you with your research please contact us, you can obtain my information through the lymphoma association.

Well done and good luck x 

15.08.2012

Hi Peter, 

Thanks so much for your comments and for sharing your story.Thankfully there is currently no known scientific  evidence for inheritability of lymphoma, but very worrying non the less.  

Best wishes,

Henry

16.08.2012

Hi Claire,

Thanks very much for sharing your experience and for the offer of help with the research, which I'll pass on. All the best,

Henry 

Anonymous
15.09.2012

My son was was diagnosed with Hodgkins Lymphoma last year at the age of 12 it took 14 month to diagnose him he underwent the gruelling 6 month chemotherapy and 11 sessions of radiotherapy on a trial program. I wish Vickie and the team At Newcastle (my home city) All the very best in the studies and look forward to hearing how the research is going....here's to non toxic treatment for children.

18.09.2012

Thanks so much for sharing your story Lynn. I hope your son continues to recover well. Best wishes