There is new hope for children living with cancer following the announcement of £2.2 million in funding for experimental treatments within Experimental Cancer Medicine Centres (ECMCs). There are 12 paediatric ECMCs throughout the UK which will receive the funding boost, with the money provided by Little Princess Trust, the National Institute for Health and Care Research and Cancer Research UK.
The ECMC network
The drugs and therapies used to treat cancer are often aggressive, with trials reliant on willing cancer patients. The ECMCs are designed to support early phase preclinical and phase II trials, with many of the centres responsible for delivering the next cancer treatments of the future. Researchers within the ECMC network are world-leading scientists and clinicians who are at the forefront of driving the discovery, development and testing of new cancer treatment and there are more than 200 staff involved in trials within the network.
The total budget for the 12 paediatric ECMCs is earmarked to be £6.6 million over the next five years, which will effectively double previous funding figures for centres spread across the UK in London, Belfast, Cardiff, Edinburgh, and other key locations. These centres are in a unique position to help the industry to develop the cancer treatments of the future, with the patients who are willing to take part in early phase trials being at the heart of new innovations.
The funding will be used to expand the existing network with new research staff and medical teams who are critically needed to support the delivery of trials to patients. The clinical trials are expected to focus on cancers such as leukaemia, brain tumours and Wilm’s tumours, with current ECMC therapies including precision medicine, immunotherapy, haematology, and combination therapy. A key area which researchers want to explore are the personalised treatments, which are designed to use genetic footprints to target specific tumours and this extra boost in funding is welcome news for all involved.
Important progress for childhood cancer treatments
The trials which will take place over the next five years will give children the best possible chance of beating cancer, and whilst a cancer diagnosis can be devastating, through improved screening and treatments there will be improved hope for children and their families. The network of paediatric phase I/II centres function as a single virtual centre, with novel therapies such as world-genome and targeted panel sequencing alongside advanced imaging and biobanking improving patient access to treatments.
Every year roughly 4,200 children and young people are diagnosed here in the UK with cancer, and the ECMCs rely on successful clinical trials to find effective drug treatments. The network of ECMCs was established in 2007 and so far, 30,000 patients have been involved in 2,100 promising clinical trials, and this new round of funding could translate into important cancer treatment discoveries.
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.
Although the UK has considerable strengths in cancer research, continuous fundraising and trials are needed to help the thousands of children who are affected by cancer. Although roughly 80% of children recover from most cancers, sadly rare brain tumours do not carry the same prognosis and it is important that charities such as Joss Searchlight continue to raise awareness, fundraise and provide support.
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.