Mobile menu icon
Mobile menu icon Search iconSearch
Search type

Childhood leukaemia

For the last 20 years, investigators at the University of Manchester have led the way in setting standards for improving the outcome for children who have acute lymphoblastic leukaemia (ALL).

As a result of the scientifically designed clinical trials and translational research conducted by Professors Tim Eden and Vaskar Saha, children in the UK with ALL now benefit from one of the highest cure rates in the world.

Leukaemia is cancer of the white blood cells - acute leukaemia means the condition progresses rapidly and aggressively and requires immediate treatment.

Professor Eden's work from 1993 to 2003 led to the routine use of certain drugs which are now standard in the therapy of childhood ALL in the UK and Ireland.

A clinical trial (ALLR3) designed by Professor Saha now forms the basis of relapse strategies worldwide for children who have ALL.

The changes in treatment included the introduction of risk stratification using MRD (minimal residual disease), optimising drug schedules and the testing of drugs not previously widely used in children with ALL.

The ALLR3 trial has improved by 10% the outcome for children with relapsed ALL in the UK, Netherlands, Australia and New Zealand and identified a role for the drug Mitoxantrone in childhood ALL.

This drug improves the outcome of all categories of relapse, compared to previously used drugs.

The ALLR3 trial underpins the current international trial in relapsed disease, funded by the European Union FP7 programme.

This is the largest study of its kind in the world, running across 20 different countries.

The trial strategy and design has been taken up by many international groups for the management of relapsed childhood ALL.

Manchester is recognised both nationally and internationally as a centre for expertise in teenage and young adult cancers, and nationally as a centre for clinical studies in childhood leukaemia.

NB: This study was selected by the Medical Schools Council (MSC) as one of 40 of UK medical schools' most impressive impact case studies submitted to the Research Excellence Framework 2014.

It features in the MSC publication Health of the Nation: The impact of UK medical schools' research (PDF 4.71MB) under the section 'Beyond Borders', which showcases research which improves healthcare internationally.

“Manchester is recognised both nationally and internationally as a centre for expertise in Teenage and Young Adult Cancers and nationally as a centre for clinical studies in childhood leukaemia.”

Vaskar Saha / Professor of Paediatric Oncology