THE mum of an 11-year-old boy battling leukaemia today welcomed the news researchers in the North East are to take part in a pioneering clinical trial on children’s cancer.
The Northern Institute for Cancer Research has been selected to be a part of the world’s largest study for treatment of childhood relapsed Acute Lymphoblastic Leukaemia (ALL).
Nineteen countries will make up the consortium, and scientists in the region will work with 18 teams from both European and selected non-European countries.
Today, Shelley Humble, whose son Lewis Hair was diagnosed with the illness last year, said the move will make a “massive difference” to sufferers.
The learning support assistant, of Hylton Red House, said: “It’s really good news. It is vital that this kind of research takes place.”
Shelley said Lewis, a pupil at Red House Academy, who won a Cancer Research UK Little Star bravery award earlier this year, was responding well to treatment.
The IntReALL study will focus on a method known as FLOW MRD, which helps identify small quantities of leukaemic cells in children who are being treated for ALL, to gauge the effectiveness of treatments.
It has been developed by North East scientists for more than a decade, thanks to the help of patients and funding from the North of England’s Children’s Cancer Research Fund.
It is hoped the trial will establish the best treatment for children who relapsed after the initial course of treatment.
It will involve the use and assessment of a new drug called Epratuzumab, which targets a protein found in leukaemia cells.
Dr Julie Irving, who will lead the research at Newcastle University’s Northern Institute for Cancer Research, said: “The fact that 19 countries have got together to work as a group to test new drugs and establish better treatments for children whose leukaemia has relapsed is testament to the strength of the research being carried out.”