Page last updated at 14:08 GMT, Friday, 16 April 2010 15:08 UK

Birmingham leads cancer trial for children

Experts at Birmingham University are to lead trials for cancer treatment for children at 21 centres across the UK, a charity says.

Cancer Research UK is investing £700,000 for a team at its centre at the university to play a major role finding or refining treatments.

There are currently 10 trials taking place in Britain and Ireland.

Professor Philip Johnson, from the charity, said staff could "take cutting-edge science to the bedside".

A trial which uses a new antibody to treat tumours that cannot be treated with existing therapies will begin later this year, the charity said.

Her tumour was the same size as a bag of sugar so she looked like she was pregnant
Teegan Lyn-Kew's father, Chris

Dr Pam Kearns, a senior lecturer at Birmingham University, said as cancer survival rates in children improve, the quality of survival has to be improved, avoiding long-term side effects.

She said much of the work will be to refine and improve existing treatments.

"We have a survival rate of 75% across different types of cancer, but there are some cancers that are more curable and some that aren't," she said.

"Some current treatments have quite a lot of side effects.

"I think a lot of people think that clinical trials are about brand new drugs, but a lot is about standards of care and making improvements towards ideally a 100% cure."

Teegan Lyn-Kew, from Tipton near Dudley in the Black Country, was diagnosed with rhabdomyosarcoma, a rare form of cancer, last July.

'Shrunk by half'

The cancer caused a floating tumour behind her belly button and she has since taken part in a trial at Birmingham Children's Hospital.

Her father, Chris, said: "Her tumour was the same size as a bag of sugar so she looked like she was pregnant.

"After the first three blocks of chemotherapy, the tumour had shrunk by half which is great news."

The tumour was then operated on and, following further chemotherapy, has completely disappeared.

"We had no hesitation in taking part in the trials," he added.

"We're amazed at how well she's done.

"It's fantastic that Birmingham is going to be the new co-ordinating centre because more children like Teegan will benefit."

Professor Johnson, director of the Cancer Research UK Clinical Trials Unit, said: "At the University of Birmingham, we have a strong track record in the design and implementation of clinical trials.

"This new team will help us reach cancer sufferers of all ages, taking cutting-edge science from the laboratory to the bedside."



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