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Institute of Child Health

Institute of Child Health

The Institute of Child Health in London is a Leukaemia & Lymphoma Research Centre of Excellence.

We are currently investing £1.5 million into research at this centre. Find out more about all Leukaemia & Lymphoma Research’s Centres of Excellence.

The Institute of Child Health, which is connected to Great Ormond Street Hospital is a particularly poignant research centre for Leukaemia & Lymphoma Research, as it is here that the charity started 50 years ago.

The sad death of Susan Eastwood to leukaemia in 1960, aged only six, inspired her family to raise money so that other families should not suffer the same loss. This money was invested into research at Great Ormond Street Hospital to find a cure for leukaemia.

Thanks to investments made in research over the last 50 years, nine out of ten children now survive the most common form of childhood cancer, acute lymphoblastic leukaemia (ALL). But more treatments are desperately needed for those children we still cannot cure.

Today Leukaemia & Lymphoma Research continue to invest in vital research at the Institute of Child Health, Great Ormond Street Hospital to develop better treatments and cures for children with leukaemia and lymphoma.

In particular, the Institute of Child Health has been recognised for its pioneering research in the area of immunotherapy, which is developing alternative treatments for children with blood cancers who cannot be cured using existing treatments.

Immunotherapy

Immunotherapy is an exciting new treatment that harnesses patient’s own immune systems to fight infection. Dr Waseem Qasim, at the Institute of Child Health is researching a type of immunotherapy known as gene therapy for children with leukaemia.

Gene therapy uses genetically engineered immune cells to fight leukaemia. Cells in the immune system are designed to fight infection, but do not recognise cancer cells as foreign. When administered by vaccination, modified immune cells may provide a cure for life, as they train the immune system to recognise cancer cells that reappear after treatment, preventing relapse.

Dr Qasim is also developing gene therapy treatments to fight infections in children with blood cancers who have stem cell transplants, helping to make this life saving procedure safer and more effective.

This research is supported by a Leukaemia & Lymphoma Research Lectureship, which will establish Dr Qasim as a core researcher at the Institute of Child Health.

Dr Bobby Gaspar is investigating gene therapy treatments for children with X-linked lymphoproliferative disease, a form of non-Hodgkin lymphoma that only affects boys.

This blood cancer is caused by a mutation in a gene called SAP. Dr Gaspar’s research suggests that gene therapy can correct this mutated gene, and offer new hope to children affected by lymphoproliferative disease.

Clinical trials

Leukaemia & Lymphoma Research have recently invested in a new clinical trial, being run by Dr Persis Amrolia at Great Ormond Street Hospital, testing an immunotherapy treatment in children with high risk leukaemia.

This new treatment uses engineered white blood cells to attack and destroy leukaemia cells in the blood of children with acute lymphoblastic leukaemia (ALL). These white blood cells are taken from a stem cell donor before being modified and given to children after they have had a stem cell transplant. The hope is that this will prevent the leukaemia from returning after intensive treatment.

Targeted treatments

Chemotherapy used to treat children with leukaemia is still very gruelling and has some horrendous side effects.

Dr Owen Williams at the Institute of Child Health is developing new, more targeted and less toxic treatments for children with leukaemia by investigating specific cancer genes.