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Exploring new treatments for neuroblastoma

Exploring new treatments for neuroblastoma

Little Princess Trust Research Project of the Month

Neuroblastoma is one of the most common childhood cancers, and there can be up to 100 children diagnosed with it every year in the UK.

The treatment for it is very strong and is made up of two different medicines, retinoic acid and anti-GD2.

Sadly, the treatment doesn’t always work and sometimes children’s cancers come back. Therefore, a key priority for neuroblastoma researchers is finding better and safer treatments.

Retinoic acid forces cancer cells to turn into healthy non-cancerous cells, which sounds ideal and has fewer side effects than the other medicine. However, retinoic acid isn’t enough on its own, and is not doing enough in combination with anti-GD2.

They’ve grown neuroblastoma cells in their lab and tested different combinations of medicines on them.

In December 2020, The Little Princess Trust funded a project by Dr Zoe Walters (pictured above) that aims to test a new medicine in combination with these existing options.

The new medicine also makes cancer cells change into normal healthy cells, and Zoe believes that using this medicine alongside retinoic acid would be a more effective and less harmful treatment for neuroblastoma.

Her team at the University of Southampton have been hard at work since June 2021.  They’ve grown neuroblastoma cells in their lab and tested different combinations of medicines on them.

The Little Princess Trust funds research searching for kinder and more effective treatments for childhood cancers.

The researchers have lots of tests left to run, like finding out how their new combination treatment actually affects cancer cells and to showing which medicine combination is the most effective, but Zoe believes that the results are promising.

She hopes that the data gathered during this project will help take the best of their new and kinder treatments into a clinical trial, where it can start to help real patients.  

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The MBE for voluntary groups was awarded to The Little Princess Trust by Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth.