- What triggers childhood leukaemia?
Inspired by Sir Ian Botham, we have given Leukaemia & Lymphoma Research £25,000 to support Mel Greaves’ work at the Institute of Cancer Research in Sutton. Mel has already proven that childhood ALL develops in the womb. He has compared blood cells from identical twins Olivia, who was being treated for leukaemia, and Isabella who is healthy. The study found the same genetically identical pre-leukaemic stem cells in both children.
The research will now try to understand how these stem cells are converted into full-blown leukaemia in some children and not others. Evidence suggests that the ‘second trigger’ is related to an unusual response to infection. As a result of this research if we can understand why the stem cell is triggered to develop leukaemia, we may be able to prevent it, but meanwhile if we can more effectively target the stem cells with treatment to stop the leukaemia in its tracks we may be able to avoid the years of debilitating treatment that some children go through.