MRC Technology, a medical research charity, and aPODD, a childhood cancer charity, have launched a call to action to accelerate the development of new treatments for children with cancer. Around 1,500 children are diagnosed with cancer in the UK every year, and 300 will die from the disease. Cancer is the major cause of death by disease for children under 14 years of age in Europe and North America.

Through KIDS CANCER – ACT NOW, the charities are galvanising support from other charities, social funders and philanthropists around the world to combine resources and expertise to help develop promising science projects towards the clinic.

In recent years adults with cancer have benefitted from new generation targeted therapies and immunotherapy treatments, but treatments for children have not seen similar breakthroughs. Since 1995, only three drugs have been approved by the United States drugs regulatory agency, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to treat cancer in children.

Despite regulatory incentives for paediatric drug development, industry tends to launch adult indications first because of the complexity of developing therapeutic drugs for children and the high cost of development for smaller patient groups. Finite funding often means pharmaceutical companies can’t progress promising research in all areas.

MRC Technology and aPODD will work with charitable and social funders to identify and progress existing research that industry is not currently in a position to develop. This alternative way of securing funds for drug development will provide the focus and funding required to translate scientific breakthroughs into cancer treatments for children.

David Pardoe, Head of Growth Projects at MRC Technology said: “MRC Technology works to provide treatments to patients where there is unmet need. We believe promising research exists which could benefit patients. By taking some of the development risk and cost out, we will increase the likelihood that pharma will take it further. We need to close the gap between promising research and new treatments being available to children with cancer.”

Cesare Spadoni, Chairman, aPODD, said: “We are very excited to work together with MRC Technology on this project. One of the key objectives of aPODD has always been the promotion of new collaborative models and drug development strategies to make promising new treatments available to children with cancer. The initiative is a big step forward in this direction.”

KIDS CANCER – ACT NOW was launched at the 48th Annual Congress of the International Society of Paediatric Oncology in Dublin, 19-22 October 2016. At the time of launch, five charities have signed up to the campaign.   Twitter #kidscanceractnow

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