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All About Leukemia for Childhood Cancer Month

September is Childhood Cancer Awareness Month, raising awareness and providing time for discussion on this deadly group of diseases. A newly published set of data, which we expect to be a key talking point among specialists this month, is hoping to help accurately predict how recurrent childhood leukemia is likely to respond to further treatment.

Despite significant progress, cancer remains the leading cause of death by disease among children under the age of 14. It is estimated that every year more than 170,000 children are diagnosed with cancer worldwide, with the majority of them not having access to the modern treatment they need.

Cancer takes a big toll on the children who win their battle against the disease; often survivors face a higher risk of experiencing unique long-term health problems in adult life.

The most common childhood cancer is a group of malignancies of the bone marrow and blood collectively called leukemia, which accounts for about 30% of all cases in children. Acute lymphocytic leukemia (ALL) is the most common form of leukemia among children.

Thanks to progress in molecular diagnosis technologies, pathologists can now precisely identify the combination of genetic defects in the white blood cells of each patient, and predict whether a child is likely to respond well to a particular treatment. This has helped ensure a long-term cure for the vast majority of children diagnosed with ALL.

However, a small group of patients relapse after initial treatment and for these children the prognosis is much poorer. Until now it was also less well understood how genetic markers could be used to guide treatment if the disease comes back.

Using a variety of genetic tests, researchers at Newcastle University, in the UK have been able to accurately predict how children whose leukemia returns after treatment are likely to respond to further treatment.

The Newcastle team reported last month in the journal Blood about the discovery of several genetic abnormalities in white blood cells from relapsed ALL patients, which includes mutations in the TP53, NR3C1, BTG1, and NRAS genes.

This provides additional information about why these children responded poorly to current therapy and how future children with similar gene defects might be more efficiently treated.

In the future screening relapsed patients for key genetic abnormalities that influence outcome will ensure that treatment can be personalized, thus improving their chances of survival.

CrownBio welcomes the progress being made in the treatment of childhood cancer and in understanding the molecular underpinning of treatment resistance.

Childhood Cancer Awareness Month provides an opportunity not only to discuss newer and better treatment options that can come out of the research discussed above, but also to rethink current preclinical strategies to ensure the right drug is delivered to the correct patient.

At CrownBio our mission is to help the global research community turn cancer from an incurable into a manageable, chronic disease, offering solutions for drug discovery and development that help identify the right drug for the correct patient population.

Patient-derived xenografts (PDXs) are among the most patient-relevant models for testing anticancer efficacy of new or existing compounds.

CrownBio provides the largest collection of PDX models for both blood malignancy (HuKemia®) and solid tumors (HuPrime®), including patient-derived models for the two forms of childhood leukemia: ALL and acute myeloid leukemia (AML), as well as for neuroblastoma, the third most common cancer type in children.

Our PDX models of different leukemia subtypes are unique in the commercial world in that they are validated, stable models with typical leukemia symptoms, as observed in the human condition.

All our models are well characterized and validated, with stable disease, allowing oncology researchers to follow cancer recurrence after initial treatment to test the efficacy of novel agents against drug resistance, which is currently the main limiting factor for treatment efficacy.

We can all contribute to make the difference in childhood cancer. Contact us today to learn how CrownBio can help your research programs.

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