A pioneering vaccine could save the lives of hundreds of children suffering from high-risk neuroblastoma cancers, and with an estimated £10-15 million needed to bring clinical trials to the UK, fundraising is essential.
What are Neuroblastomas?
Every year roughly 50 children are diagnosed with high-risk neuroblastoma tumours in the UK, and the gruelling treatment regime carries just a 50% chance of survival. Of those who do survive the first round of treatment, roughly 20% of children suffer relapses.
Although neuroblastoma cancers are rare, childhood cancers are the leading cause of death for children aged between one and 14 here in the UK, and neuroblastomas are the most common form of cancer in children under the age of 5.
Why funding research is so important
Here at Joss Searchlight, we understand the importance of fundraising to support this vital research, and not only will investing in this research help save the lives of children with cancer, but it will also improve the current infrastructure for cancer healthcare systems, and help to save the NHS millions on cancer care for the children who do suffer a relapse.
To find out more about how to support our charity with our fundraising efforts or to make a donation, please click here.
What is the experimental vaccine?
The new and experimental vaccine aims to reduce the risk of neuroblastoma cancer returning by training the immune system to identify and attack new cancer cells. The early studies found that the vaccine was able to trigger an immune response, with the increased antibody levels leading to better survival rates for patients.
Currently, the pioneering vaccine is only available through the Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in New York, which is out of reach for many families in the UK. The treatment, travel and accommodation costs amount to thousands and the upheaval to the lives of sick children often carries a huge risk.
The treatment is known as a bivalent vaccine, as it targets two proteins which are found within neuroblastoma cells, and while there are clinical trials in place around the world to help children stay clear of the disease, they are not yet available in the UK.
Can the vaccine be used in the UK?
As of January 2023, at least 33 families from the UK have flown to take part in the trial, which would obviously be more accessible and cause far less stress if the vaccine was available here. With neuroblastoma experts in the UK willing to work with those in America, it is hoped that together they will be able to compile the data needed for the vaccine to become licensed for use here by the NHS.
If the UK is able to establish a vaccine trial it would provide patients with the early access to this potentially life-saving vaccine, however commitment and investment is needed from the government. There are discussions taking place within the European clinical research community about a potential vaccine trial, however these are at an early stage. There is clear support for a vaccine trial and if government support is secured it will position the UK at the forefront of international children’s cancer treatments.
Through early diagnosis, patients will be able to access early treatment options, however continued funding and research is needed to ensure that this early-stage science is utilised fully in clinical settings. This is why our charity is so committed to raising the vital funds needed to support this important research. If you would like to find out more about the research we fund, how to get involved or the support we offer, please contact us today.