Little Princess Trust News
Three projects chosen for our New Ideas grants
Scheme will support early stages of ground-breaking ideas
The Little Princess Trust (LPT) is proud to announce the funding of three ground-breaking research projects as part of our first New Ideas grant scheme.
The funding of these new projects has taken our total investment in childhood cancer research to over £23 million.
The New Ideas grant scheme, awarded in partnership with the Children’s Cancer and Leukaemia Group (CCLG), is a testament to our commitment to explore unconventional and forward-thinking approaches that will improve the treatment and well-being of young cancer patients.
Phil Brace, CEO of The Little Princess Trust, said: “Reaching this fantastic milestone has only been possible through our supporters’ commitment to making a better future for children with cancer.
“Their fundraising has enabled us to launch our New Ideas grant scheme this year, dedicated to exploring the early stages of ground-breaking research ideas that are often hard to find funding for.
“We are excited to share that we have funded three New Ideas projects researching important topics that have not been explored before in childhood cancer.”
The three chosen projects are as follows.
1. Protecting young hearts from chemotherapy-related heart problems
Dr Roisin Kelly-Laubscher, a University College Cork based researcher, is investigating whether a medicine could protect children’s hearts if given before chemotherapy.
Roisin said: “Scientists have developed some really good drugs for treating cancer. Unfortunately, some of these drugs also damage the heart. This can mean that cancer survivors later develop heart problems which can have a negative impact on their quality of life.
“It does not seem fair to me that, after surviving one major health condition, survivors are more likely than the general population to develop another serious health condition.
"By developing a treatment that can prevent the toxic effects of anti-cancer drugs, we hope to ultimately improve the quality of life of cancer survivors.”
Her New Ideas project will test whether the drug ethanolamine could prevent heart damage if given at the same time as doxorubicin, a type of chemotherapy.
Dr Kelly-Laubscher will see how this medicine affects important heart cells, then find out what dose and timings would work best.
2. Investigating nanomedicines to make treatment safer for children with cancer
Also working on reducing the damage done by chemotherapy, Dr Marie-Christine Jones at the University of Birmingham is working on nanomedicines.
This type of treatment uses tiny particles to deliver the anticancer medicines, which can be safer because they can slip through the gaps in leaky tumour blood vessels.
Marie-Christine’s project aims to understand how nanomedicines work for children, learn more about tumour blood vessels, and test nanomedicines in leaky blood vessel models to find out which ones would work best.
She said: “I will be testing blood samples from children with cancer to see if we can predict how nanomedicines will behave and confirm they can be targeted specifically to the tumour, to potentially reduce the side effects of cancer treatments.
“This work will help reframe how we view nanomedicines and uncover their impact on improving the tolerability of cancer treatments for children.
“I feel really excited as this work could have a big impact on how anticancer drugs are administered to children, as well as improving our understanding of how cancer develops and can be targeted in children.”
3. Understanding how protein production is changed in childhood cancer cells
Professor Karim Malik, at the University of Bristol, is looking at a new way that cancer cells can alter the production of proteins in order to help them grow unchecked.
Researchers know that cancer cells can have more of the messenger molecules that carry the genetic code, which contains instructions for proteins which control cell behaviour. However, Karim proposes that they also have changes to how these instructions are translated into proteins.
In his New Ideas project, Karim is focusing on understanding how translation of the genetic code into proteins is altered by molecules called tRNAs. These are a vital part of the translation process, bringing together the components needed to build each protein. Inhibition of cancer cell tRNAs may provide new cancer treatments in the future.
He said: “I am delighted that The Little Princess Trust selected our New Ideas project. The scheme fills a vital gap for research scientists in that it enables experimental validation of cutting-edge ideas and technologies.
“Our project will use the best modern technology to characterise tRNA modifications, which would not be possible without this grant. Our experiments will further define key attributes of cancer cells, and the data generated will be crucial for larger translational research projects in the future. We hope it will lead to novel therapeutic approaches in the near future.”
These projects are a vital step forward for childhood cancer and will help shape a brighter future for children.
Ashley Ball-Gamble, Chief Executive of CCLG, spoke about his charity’s work with The Little Princess Trust.
He said: “Our position as the experts in childhood cancer makes us ideally placed to support and administer The Little Princess Trust’s extensive research funding portfolio.
"The partnership is key to both our long-term aims and allows more high-quality research to be funded.
“These projects are a vital step forward for childhood cancer and will help shape a brighter future for children with cancer, where every child has a safe and effective treatment and goes on to lead a long and happy life.”