Research update - July 2020

The impact of COVID-19 has been serious and will have long-lasting consequences for medical research in the UK, not least because so much of our medical research is funded by charities. 

We have continued to move our neuroblastoma research programme forward during the pandemic, with several grants awarded in recent months and other review processes ongoing, but like many charities we have faced challenges.

The MiNivAn trial, funded by Solving Kids’ Cancer in London and New York, together with J-A-C-K and Band of Parents, was paused to recruitment as NHS resources were moved to the effort against COVID-19. We knew the devastating impact this would have for families, especially those waiting to join this clinical trial, and so we made a plea on behalf of families to those ultimately responsible for reinstating services post the pandemic. We worked closely with our funding partners to highlight the critical need for this trial and urged those responsible to prioritise children as hospitals transition to more routine services. We have been reassured that children, and this trial, are an absolute priority at this time and we will continue to monitor the situation. 

We were pleased to announce funding of the UK-arm of the SIOPEN HRNBL-2 study, together with our funding partner Neuroblastoma UK. This trial builds on what has been learned from the SIOPEN HRNBL-1 trial and will seek to further improve the outcome of children diagnosed with high-risk neuroblastoma. A number of randomisations will compare i) 2 different induction chemotherapy regimens ii) intensifying high dose chemotherapy iii) increasing radiotherapy in children with residual disease following surgery. In addition, further amendments are planned including the addition of anti-GD2 monoclonal antibody (dinutuximab beta) to induction chemotherapy and other targeted agents.

During this time Our Head of Research, Leona Knox, and Donna Ludwinksi, Family Consultant, have continued to collaborate with international colleagues and recently contributed to an academic publication which explores the impact of COVID-19 - Paediatric Cancer Research: Surviving COVID-19. Highlighting that paediatric cancer remains the primary disease-related cause for mortality in children. Therefore, we must not lose focus on the need to continue to drive and support research that is vital to discovering more targeted treatment for paediatric cancer, and also to minimize the negative impact of COVID-19 on the progress being made and to leverage the lessons learned to make us better than before.