Dear Supporters and friends,
The start of the academic year has been a busy one for me with lots of teaching and organizational work, but also a visit to the Fifth International Symposium on Childhood and Adolescent Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma. This exciting meeting is held every three years and this year I was an invited member of the International Scientific Organizing Committee and a session chair. There were many themes presented and discussed at the meeting but some key topics emerged on multiple occasions. One of these is the issue we now face with deciding how to improve the treatment of children with NHL. As we know, for most forms of childhood NHL the cure rates are relatively high ranging from 70-90% dependent on the type of cancer; whilst being a fantastic achievement in itself we will not accept anything less than 100% cure rates. However, another goal is to reduce the long-term side effects suffered by children treated with current chemotherapy regimens. One way to achieve this is to develop biomarkers that might predict how a child will respond to therapy. Biomarkers are laboratory tests that can be performed on blood or bone marrow specimens that can indicate whether a cancer has spread or is aggressive. These can be used to classify the children into risk categories – low, intermediate and high; high-risk children might then continue to receive intensive chemotherapy (with its side-effects) whilst low risk children might be considered for reduced chemotherapy with fewer sideeffects. These possibilities were discussed at length during the meeting, which brings together scientists, clinicians, students and other healthcare professionals providing a multi-disciplinary approach. In the meantime, recruitment to the B-NHL rituximab trial is on-going and we are currently planning our involvement in a second Europe-wide trial that will hopefully start next year. I wish you all (dare I say it this early!) a happy and safe festive season and all the best for 2016.
Dr Suzanne D. Turner PhD Leukaemia and Lymphoma Research Bennett Fellow
A NOTE FROM SORCHA
Work in the lab is going well. Presently I am working on genetic sequencing of Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma patient samples. This means we read the genetic information of the tumour at the minutest detail. From this information we hope to decipher the different mutations present in the tumours particular I will look for mutations present at very low frequencies which may highlight clones responsible for disease progression and relapse. In addition to active lab work, keeping up-to-date with advancements in the field is a very important aspect of research and last month I was lucky enough to attend the Fifth International Symposium on Childhood, Adolescent and Young Adult Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma. As Suzanne has mentioned the conference schedule was packed with fascinating talks on Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma in children and provided lots of interesting ideas to help with my research. Some of the most interesting were focused on improving treatment strategies for B cell Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma. These talks described studies involving small-molecule inhibitors such as Ibrutinib and monoclonal antibodies such as Rituximab which are both drug types‟ specifically targeting B cells. Reducing the use of highly toxic chemotherapy drugs in patients, by introducing these more targeted therapies, could greatly decrease morbidity and may help improve retrieval rates following relapse. Hearing from many medical doctors who are bringing these research advancements to the clinic to help patients was both fascinating and motivating.
Thank you for the continuing support.