Paediatric Cancer

The most common childhood cancers are cancers of the blood (leukaemias and lymphomas), brain, and central nervous system; they account for over half of the cancers diagnosed in children. Between 2008–2010, around 1,600 children were diagnosed with cancer each year in the UK. More than 8 in 10 children now survive five years or more, compared to 3 in 10 in the 1960s. Consequently, much research is directed at designing less toxic therapies, reducing therapeutic burden, and developing diagnostic tests to enhance patient stratification. This research is made possible in Cambridge by strong links between research labs and the clinic as well as contributions to international clinical trials.

Advances in children’s cancer and leukaemia research in Cambridge

Programme Contacts

Cambridge University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust
University of Cambridge
Department of Pathology
Neuroblastoma

Neuroblastoma is a cancer of the peripheral nervous system and is largely diagnosed in children under the age of 5. On average, around 100 children will be diagnosed with neuroblastoma each year in the UK alone. Research into this rare paediatric cancer in Cambridge is conducted in the labs of Prof. Anna Philpott and Dr Suzanne Turner. In the former lab, research is being conducted to elucidate the relationship between cellular proliferation and differentiation and how this finely controlled balance is affected in neuroblastoma. In the latter lab, the mechanisms of drug resistance of some neuroblastoma sub-types is being analysed. 

Paediatric leukaemia and lymphoma

Research on paediatric leukaemia and lymphoma is conducted in the labs of Prof. Markus Mueshen and Dr Suzanne Turner in close collaboration with clinical colleagues, namely by Dr Amos Burke and Dr Denise Williams. Projects include characterising tumour heterogeneity in paediatric non-Hodgkin lymphoma (NHL), and investigating minimal residual (MRD) and minimal disseminated disease (MDD) as prognostic factors. Research into paediatric leukaemias is analyzing mechanisms of therapy resistance and divulging novel therapeutic targets. This research is undertaken with close alignment to a portfolio of clinical trials conducted at both International and National levels. 

Paediatric renal tumours

Wilms' tumour (also called nephroblastoma) is a children’s cancer of the kidney. The disease has excellent treatment outcomes and the emphasis now is on identifying high-risk patients, and reducing the toxicity and late-effects of treatment in lower-risk patients. Dr Boo Messahel who leads this project has a special interest into renal tumours.

A large national study, called IMPORT, is collecting information about the diagnosis, treatments, scan results and changes in tissue, blood and urine samples of children with kidney cancer. The results will help doctors understand why some treatments work better than others and will be used to improve treatment decisions in the future. 

Malignant germ cell tumours (GCTs)

Malignant germ cell tumours (GCTs) are complex cancers that affect patients of all ages. They develop from cells that produce eggs or sperm and mostly occur in the ovaries and testes. Around 2,500 men are diagnosed with testicular GCTs every year in the UK alone, and the disease is a leading cause of death of young men. Dr Matthew MurrayDr James Nicholson and Prof Nick Coleman are leading research on the causes on GCTs, in particular in the investigation of the role of MicroRNAs; they were the first to show that increased levels of these microRNAs are present in the blood when malignant GCTs are diagnosed and that levels of the molecules can be monitored during treatment. In the future, microRNAs found in the blood are likely to be useful for improving the accuracy of diagnosis and disease-monitoring in other solid tumours of childhood.

Principal investigators and consultants

  • All members
  • Group leaders
  • Clinical consultants
University of Cambridge
Department of Veterinary Medicine
My laboratory is interested in preclinical modelling of musculoskeletal cancer, with a particular emphasis on paediatric cancers (such as...
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Cambridge University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust
Department of Medical Genetics
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Cambridge University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust
Department of Paediatric Haematology, Oncology and Palliative Care
Dr Amos Burke is a childhood cancer specialist working at Addenbrooke's providing a service for chidlren in the East of England. He has a...
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University of Cambridge
Department of Veterinary Medicine
As a Veterinary Oncologist, I am interested in many aspects of cancer including diagnostic methods and treatment of commonly occuring...
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University of Cambridge
Department of Pathology
Mechanisms of lymphomagenesis 
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Department of Pathology
Understanding the role of underexpressed microRNAs in malignant germ cell tumours
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University of Cambridge
Department of Pathology
Cancer stem cells and heterogeneity in Non Hodgkin Lymphoma
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Department of Pathology
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Randomised phase 3 trial of accelerated versus standard BEP chemotherapy for patients, aged 11-45 years, with intermediate and poor-risk...
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Cambridge University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust
Department of Paediatric Haematology and Oncology
I have been a consultant in paediatric haematology in Addenbrooke's since 2004. I am responsible for the care of children with malignant...
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Cambridge University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust
Department of Medical Genetics
My research is focused on the genetically inherited contribution of the miRNA processing pathway in certain paediatric cancers, using NGS...
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Cambridge University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust
Department of Oncology
Dr Hatcher is the Clinical and Regional lead for young people with cancer specialising in sarcomas and other rare cancers. She qualified in...
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Cambridge University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust
Department of Oncology
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Department of Pathology
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University of Cambridge
Department of Pathology
My project involves the use of nanobody technology to target intracellular oncoproteins.
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University of Cambridge
Department of Pathology
F-box proteins (FBPs) are the substrate-recruiting subunits of SCF (Skp1-cullin1-FBP)-type E3 ubiquitin ligases, but ubiquitinated...
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University of Cambridge
Department of Pathology
Use whole-exome sequencing of patient lymphoma samples to characterize defining mutations; we are hoping to improve personalized diagnosis...
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University of Cambridge
Department of Pathology
Conducting genome-wide CRISPR/Cas9 knockout and overexpression screens to identify putative bypass mechanisms to second generation ALK...
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Cambridge University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust
Department of Paediatric oncology and haematology
Dr Boo Messahel is a childhood and teenage cancer specialist working at Addenbrooke's hospital providing a service for all children and...
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Cambridge University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, University of Cambridge
Department of Pathology, Department of Paediatrics
Our lab is undertaking a national Children's Cancer and Leukaemia Group (CCLG) approved study, investigating non-coding RNAs, including...
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Cambridge University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust
Department of Paediatric oncology and haematology
Dr James Nicholson is a specialist in children's cancer and manages all types of solid tumours as well as working closely with haematology...
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University of Cambridge
Department of Oncology
Hutchison MRC Research Centre, Wellcome Trust MRC Cambridge Stem Cell Institute
I am interested in the balance between proliferation and differentiation during development and cancer, using a range of models including...
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Cambridge University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust
Department of Palliative Care
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University of Cambridge
Department of Pathology
Our research focusses on dissecting mechanisms of lymphomagenesis using anaplastic large cell lymphoma (ALCL) as our working model. ALCL is...
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Cambridge University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust
Department of Paediatric oncology and haematology
Main research interest is lymphomas in children
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Cambridge University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust
Department of Paediatric oncology and haematology
Dr Anny Wong is a childhood cancer specialist working at Addenbrooke's. Her role includes training new staff and overseeing the smooth...
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Cambridge University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust
Department of Oncology
Treatment of bone and soft-tissue sarcomas, testicular cancer, and teenage-and-young-adult malignancies.
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