Friends of Rosie brought together 40 of the world’s top researchers and clinicians from across the UK, Europe and North America. Together they discussed how better to target treatments for children with cancer.
The international childhood cancer workshop was held in Manchester on the 8th and 9th of June 2022. It came less than two months after MPs listened to impassioned pleas in the House of Commons for a concerted effort to bring together the very best in research, training, and treatment. The aim is to change the approach to childhood cancer once and for all.
Participants brainstormed how to improve the diagnosis and treatment of children’s cancers using state-of-the-art molecular diagnostics. Their goal is to better tailor novel drug treatments to individual children according to the genetic markers present in their tumours. We call this “precision medicine”.
During lively interactive discussions, attendees presented new technical advances in detecting these genetic markers. They focused particularly on how to use a patient’s blood sample, rather than often painful attempts to gather pieces of a tumour.
Collaboration leads to progress
Progress in the diagnosis and subsequent treatment of cancer in children depends strongly on international collaboration between doctors and scientists. Dr Martin McCabe from the Christie Hospital University of Manchester and Professor Bernadette Brennan from The Royal Manchester Children’s Hospital agreed that Friends of Rosie had succeeded in helping children’s cancer doctors to share novel information helping to advance diagnosis and treatment. Through the workshop, they have developed international collaborations to improve the outcomes for children and young people with cancer.
Dr McCabe said, “By bringing together all of the best precision medicine clinical research in childhood cancer in Europe at present, the Friends of Rosie workshop has demonstrated what the different international platforms have taught us. But, more importantly, the remaining challenges and the populations of children who are still underserved and poorly understood. We have forged new collaborations across the spectrum of childhood cancer and within specific diseases that will lead to new knowledge and much-needed progress.”
Friends of Rosie Trustee and Ewing Sarcoma survivor, Mahesh Vara, said, “It was a real privilege to speak at the Workshop. I appreciated the opportunity to share my experience of childhood cancer with those that attended. I am hopeful for the future. Workshops like this mark another step towards changing the approach to childhood cancer treatment, care and diagnosis. We continue to make a concerted effort to bring together the very best in research, training, and treatment.”
Our thanks go to the pharmaceutical companies – AstraZeneca, Bayer, Novartis and Pfizer – for their generous financial support of the workshop. We will plan another workshop for 2024.