The money will be used to help plug a funding gap caused by COVID-19.
In 2017 the Dear Toby Trust began funding (with a £45,000 grant) a three-year early-stage research programme seeking to explore the possibility of immunotherapy for Acute Myeloid Leukaemia (AML). This is a pioneering area of research in which Great Ormond Street Hospital (GOSH) is a world leader.
AML is the most common type of acute leukaemia. There are around 3200 new AML cases and about 2600 AML related deaths in the UK each year. The outlook for children is particularly poor. And despite improvements in our understanding of the disease, there have been few new therapies licensed.
In recent years one avenue of research has focused on how to enhance a patient’s own immune system, thereby allowing them to fight the leukaemia. This is called immunotherapy.
Within the study we helped to fund, the researchers have successfully identified several chimeric antigen receptor (CAR) T cells capable of effectively targeting and killing AML cells.
Unfortunately, cancer treatment and research took a huge hit from the COVID-19 crisis. Labs closed. Trials were suspended. Research budgets were cut, and hard-won progress was set back.
For us that meant that our early stage research had to be put on hold for several months – because it wasn’t possible for our researchers to access the lab.
Thankfully, Lloyd’s £5,000 grant will allow the Trust to plug this gap and ensure that our researchers can get back to work, making up for lost time as they continue the search for kinder childhood cancer treatments and cures.
This work is vital – because if we can treat cancer in kids then we all stand a better chance.
And our research is already providing valuable evidence to help secure more support from larger charities, the government and drugs companies. This enables more clinical research and (importantly) patient trials.
For us, as Toby’s parents, we are so grateful for this support to help us continue research into CAR T cell therapy for AML – a treatment that was so desperately needed but wasn’t available for Toby.