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Clinical trials

Scientists at Northern Institute for Cancer Research are currently working on clinical trials to develop new therapies to improve survival rates and treatment intensity for patients with Leukaemia.

One area where researchers have had a recent breakthrough following funding from NECCR is in identifying improved treatment options for patients with Acute Lymphoblastic Leukaemia (ALL) who are BCR-ABL positive. ALL is a cancer which occurs commonly in children under the age of 15. The prognosis of patients diagnosed with ALL is generally very good and in children the survival rate is in excess of 90%.

NECCR is researching ways to improve survival rates of a less common form of ALL, known as BCR-ABL, which has poorer treatment outcomes for patients. An identifying factor of BCR-ABL is the presence of a particular genetic abnormality within the Leukaemia cells known as the Philadelphia chromosome.  The Philadelphia chromosome isn’t inherited and can’t be passed on to your children.

Working in the laboratory scientists funded by NECCR discovered that patients that are BCR-ABL positive have abnormally high levels of a protein called Bc12. This protein prevents tumour cells from being removed or destroyed.

As a result NECCR has obtained a drug which inhibits the function of the protein and tests have shown a large reduction in Leukaemia cells.

The next stage of the research is to start trials in Leukaemia patients. It is hoped in the long term the research will lead to improved treatment options for patients with BCR-ABL positive ALL.

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