More children with leukaemia in the West Midlands are set to benefit from life-saving research at Birmingham Children’s Hospital thanks to funding from Cure Leukaemia.
Through its Red Alert Appeal, the Cure Leukaemia has announced it will be funding two years of support for research, enabling the Hospital to continue vital trials into new drugs and treatment, bringing more hope to the 60 leukaemia patients and their families from across the region who are treated at the Hospital each year.
Birmingham Children’s Hospital has been leading the way in childhood leukaemia research since 1999, helping to reduce the side effects of treatment and increase the number of children who survive the cancer.
Cure rates have increased from 85% in 1999 to 92% in 2003, with expectations of achieving even higher rates through the latest trial, the UK National Randomised Trial of Children and Young Adults with Acute Lymphoblastic Leukaemia and Lymphoma (UKALL 2011). Around 90% of all leukaemia patients at Birmingham Children’s Hospital have acute lymphoblastic leukaemia and lymphoma (ALL).
UKALL 2011, which begins later this year, treats patients from one year old to 25 and this funding will support the creation of a research network across the West Midlands to bridge the divide between children and young adults, which has not been done before.
One young patient who benefitted from the UKALL 2003 trial is 10 year old Charles Pitchford from Castle Bromwich. Charles was diagnosed with ALL in 2008 and underwent chemotherapy for just under three and a half years, until March this year when he was give the ‘all clear’ by doctors.
Charles’ mum Paula, who volunteers in the oncology department at Birmingham Children’s Hospital, said: “It was such a relief to hear that Charles is out of the danger zone and can now look forward to a happy and healthy life. We’re all so proud of how brave he was throughout his treatment.
“We are lucky that cure rates are high for this type of cancer but there is still more to be done to get them to 100%. I am glad that we were a part of this research so we can help other children and families.”
UKALL 2003, the last large childhood UK trial led to the introduction of a new method of monitoring the response to chemotherapy treatment, which led to a marked improvement in cure rates.
Sarah Lawson, Birmingham Children’s Hospital Consultant Paediatric Haematologist, and National Coordinator for the UKALL 2011 trial, said:
“We are incredibly grateful to Cure Leukaemia for supporting our team at Birmingham Children’s Hospital to deliver these vital childhood leukaemia trials.
“We wouldn’t have the high cure rates that we have today if it wasn’t for research and the teams who carry it out and this will go a long way in helping us further improve outcome and reduce toxicity of treatment for children with leukaemia.”
In addition to UKALL 2011, the nurses will also be supporting trials at the Hospital for acute myeloid leukaemia, relapsed leukaemia and infant leukaemia.
James McLaughlin, Cure Leukaemia Chief Executive, said:
“Birmingham Children’s Hospital is a centre of excellence for children’s cancer care and we are delighted to be able to boost their leukaemia research team and help ensure that more nurses can continue their lifesaving research over the next two years.
“We are looking forward to this being the start of a long-term partnership to improve the lives of children and young adults for many years to come.”
Notes to editors
The Cure Leukaemia Red Alert Appeal is supported by BBC WM. More details can be found at http://www.cureleukaemia.co.uk/redalert.
The Children’s Cancer Centre Appeal
Birmingham Children’s Hospital launched its Children’s Cancer Centre Appeal in July to raise £4 million to improve the lives of the 3,000 cancer patients and their families who are treated at the hospital each year, by totally transforming the cancer unit facilities and accommodation.
The current unit is over 30 years old and the service itself has totally outgrown capacity. £4 million will enable the Hospital to increase the space around patients’ beds, provide better communal areas for families and improve the outpatients area, which is now busier than ever before.
To get involved go to www.bch.org.uk.
Birmingham Children’s Hospital NHS Foundation Trust provides a comprehensive service to children, young people and their families.
We are one of the leading paediatric teaching centres in the country, with international research and development in areas such as:
- Childhood cancer studies
- Liver disease
- Infection, inflammation and immunity
- Molecular genetics of childhood conditions (how these are passed on, and how they cause disease in the body in terms of chemistry)
- Nutrition, growth and metabolism in childhood
- Drug use in children
- Relapsed and refractory acute lymphoblastic leukaemia
- Infant neuroblastoma
- Infant brain tumours
Our facilities include:
- A 22 bedded Paediatric Intensive Care Unit
- A centre of excellence for children with cancer, cardiac, liver and renal disease
- A national transplant centre
- 280 inpatient and day-case beds including Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services
- 38 specialties and supporting departments
- An Emergency Department dealing with over 45,000 patients a year
- Twelve theatres
- Three MRI scanners
- A CT Scanner
- An endoscopy suite
- A catheter laboratory with digital imaging facility
- Burn, Neonatal Surgery and Education Centre
- Wellcome Clinical Research Facility
- Renal Unit
- Teenage Cancer Trust Unit
- Ronald McDonald House (parent and family accommodation).