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UK Nonprofits Launch Childhood Cancer Research Program to Advance Precision Medicine

NEW YORK – Children With Cancer UK and Cancer Research UK on Monday launched a collaborative research program to advance precision cancer care for pediatric patients.

The two nonprofits contributed £5.5 million ($6.9 million) to fund Stratified Medicine Paediatrics 2 (SMPaeds2), which will be led by researchers from three hospitals: Louis Chesler at the Institute of Cancer Research in London; Darren Hargrave at Great Ormond Street Hospital for Children National Health Service (NHS) Foundation Trust; and Isidro Cortes Ciriano at the European Molecular Biology Laboratory's European Bioinformatics Institute.

The collaboration also involves University College London, the University of Birmingham, Birmingham Cancer Research UK Clinical Trials Unit, Cancer Grand Challenges Rosetta team, the National Physical Laboratory, the Francis Crick Institute, Genomics England, Genomics Medicine Services Alliance, the University of Nottingham, Newcastle University, and the Experimental Cancer Medicine Centres.

Researchers will investigate blood cancers and solid tumors affecting children and young people, including tumors in the brain, muscle, and bone. The group will also develop liquid biopsy molecular tumor profiling tests that can match children to precision medicines, monitor therapy response, detect cancer relapse, and potentially help advance new precision cancer medicines.

"SMPaeds2 will identify specific patterns of childhood cancer relapse, highlight resistance to treatment, and provide an infrastructure by which all children seeking experimental therapy on future clinical trials can be rapidly diagnosed and monitored," Children With Cancer UK CEO Jo Elvin said in a statement. "The data generated by SMPaeds2 will support the development of next-generation clinical trials, to help deliver more effective, targeted treatment."

The first iteration of this collaboration, SMPaeds1, established the UK's first nationally available molecular tumor profiling platform for relapsed childhood cancer. Those tests were implemented by NHS England for standard clinical use in 2020.