Programme members conduct research into a wide range of different childhood cancers:
- Leukaemia and Lymphoma
- Malignant Germ Cell Tumours
- Musculoskeletal cancers
- General, data management
Research on paediatric leukaemia and lymphoma is conducted in the lab of Dr Suzanne Turner in close collaboration with clinical colleagues, namely by Dr Amos Burke. 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.
Networks and collaborations
EICNHL - European Inter-Group for Childhood Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma (Suzanne Turner is current Biology Chair)
GLoBNHL trial developed by the ACCELERATE platform along with EICNHL, COG and ITCC
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 Murray, Dr 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.
Networks and collaborations
MaGIC consortium - James Nicholson is current Vice-Chair and Matthew Murray is a member of the Executive Committee.
Dr Matt Murray is collaborating with Dr Raheleh Rahbari(link is external) (Wellcome Sanger Institute) to investigate developmental origins of germ cell tumours
Alonso-Crisostomo et al. Testicular germ cell tumour cells release microRNA-containing extracellular vesicles that induce phenotypic and genotypic changes in cells of the tumour microenvironment. Int J Cancer. 2023 Aug 26
Frappaz et al. Intracranial germ cell tumors in Adolescents and Young Adults: European and NOrth American consensus review, current management and future development. Neuro Oncol. Nov 2021
Piao et al. A Multi-institutional Pooled Analysis Demonstrates That Circulating miR-371a-3p Alone is Sufficient for Testicular Malignant Germ Cell Tumor Diagnosis. Clinical Genitourinary Cancer 2021 Sept
Murray et al. Clinical utility of circulating miR-371a-3p for the management of patients with intracranial malignant germ cell tumors(link is external). NeuroOnc Adv. April 2020
Depani et al. Results from the UK Children's Cancer and Leukaemia Group study of extracranial germ cell tumours in children and adolescents (GCIII)(link is external). Eur J Cancer. 2019 Jul 12;118:49-57
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.
Funding: Neuroblastoma UK, CRUK, MRC
Research on paediatric musculoskeletal cancers is conducted in the labs of Professor Matthew Allen and Dr Jane Dobson. They are interested in preclinical modelling, with a particular emphasis on paediatric cancers (such as osteosarcoma, rhabdomyosarcoma and Ewings sarcoma) and adult cancers that spread to bone (such as breast, prostate, renal and lung cancer). They use a combination of cell culture and preclinical animal models to explore the mechanisms through which these cancers grow in bone and then spread (metastasise) to other organs.
They also work with dogs and cats with naturally-occurring cancer to evaluate new therapies and work on strategies for prevention of metastasis. It is known that certain soft tissue sarcomas appear more frequent in specific breeds of dog, suggesting an underlying genetic influence, which they are exploring.
Ultimately, they seek to develop new approaches to diagnose, track and treat these cancers in both animals and humans.
Funding: Sarcoma UK
Groups at Cambridge are also involved in wider issues around paediatric cancer research, e.g. clinical trial management, data management, patient communication and others
Ford et al. Optimising the health-care experiences of babies, children, and young people. Lancet 2021 Oct
Heritage et al. Documentation of Oncofertility Communication in Adolescents and Young Adults with Cancer: A Retrospective Analysis. J Adolesc Young Adult Oncol 2021 Sept
Plana et al. Pediatric Cancer Data Commons: Federating and Democratizing Data for Childhood Cancer Research. JCO Clin Cancer Inform 2021 Sept