Our Scientific Director Dr. David Flavell explains about the life saving research work being funded by Leukaemia Busters.
Over the course of four decades, scientists and doctors collaborating nationally and internationally have developed chemotherapy treatments that are effective for eight out of ten children with the commonest form of childhood leukaemia and for approximately half of adult patients with leukaemia. However, chemotherapy still has very unpleasant and sometimes life threatening side effects and does not cure every patient.
More work is therefore urgently needed to develop new and improved treatments that will be effective for these incurable patients and which will furthermore have fewer serious side effects for all patients in the future.
A human immune cell (yellow) killing a cancer cell (pink).
In recent years, antibody and other treatments that are highly selective at killing cancer cells, but which leave normal cells untouched in the patient’s body, have proven highly effective where chemotherapy has failed.
Over twenty years ago, the lead scientists funded by Leukaemia Busters chose to focus their research on antibody-based treatments and have developed several of these over the intervening years, two of which have been tested in nationwide clinical trials in both adults and children with recurrent leukaemia, lymphoma or myeloma. Antibody-based treatments are now proving highly effective in the treatment of various diseases including leukaemia and other cancers.
The scientists always disseminate the results of their research either at international cancer research conferences or in high caliber international medical journals. This is important as it ensures that the results of the charity’s potentially lifesaving research is freely available for other doctors and scientists to draw on worldwide.
The research is now focused on building on past successes and through the use of genetic engineering and other cutting edge technologies. This will allow the laboratory to work towards developing the next generation of antibody-based drugs that we hope will prove increasingly more effective and ultimately provide cures for those who are currently incurable.