Solving Kids’ Cancer grant to Professor John Anderson

Solving Kids’ Cancer is pleased to announce that it has awarded a grant of £250,000 to Professor John Anderson of UCL, to study preclinical refinements of treatment of neuroblastoma with CAR-T cells.  This research will seek innovative solutions to improve survival for children with high-risk neuroblastoma by optimising the potential of CAR-T cell therapy, building on knowledge gained from the first paediatric CAR-T cell trial for neuroblastoma in the UK.

In this study, Prof John Anderson and his team will test known and available candidate drugs for their ability to overcome immune suppression – the ability of the solid tumour microenvironment to resist and repel immunotherapies. The most effective of drugs can then be taken forward into the clinic and used in combination with GD2 CAR-T cells, to provide a more effective overall treatment strategy.

The group will also seek to refine the design of the Chimeric Antigen Receptor (CAR) so that off-target toxicity in the context of a highly activated next generation GD2 CAR-T cell is reduced, making the treatment more tolerable for children.

CAR-T cell therapy

CAR-T cell therapy uses particular types of cells from the patient’s own immune system (T cells) and genetically engineers them in the laboratory to recognise cancer cells as foreign – in this case using GD2 found on the surface of neuroblastoma cells. These genetically engineered T-cells are then injected back into the patient.

This has already given children with refractory and relapsed leukaemia a realistic hope of cure and a CAR-T cell clinical trial at Great Ormond Street Hospital (GOSH) has shown early promise against neuroblastoma. The purpose of this new research is to build on the work done to date in order to enhance the safety and effectiveness of the treatment for the benefit of children with neuroblastoma.

Professor Anderson, Professor of Experimental Paediatric Oncology at the UCL Institute of Child Health since 2014, presented his work on CAR-T cells at the Solving Kids’ Cancer Neuroblastoma Parent Education Conference in 2017.

Research funding

Solving Kids’ Cancer acknowledges all those children whose funds enable us to drive forward our research work in pursuit of more effective treatments to help children with neuroblastoma both now and in the future. And we remember those who are very sadly no longer with us, our research honours all their memories. In addition, we would like to thank family and friends of Vanessa Moss, without whom this particular grant would not have been possible.