Neuroblastoma UK received 19 interesting applications in response to our 2016 research competition.  We are very grateful to the applicants for submitting their proposals, the many peer reviewers that provided very useful comments and the valuable discussion, assessment and advice received from the Neuroblastoma UK Scientific Advisory Board for 2016. The membership of the board was Professor Peter Ambros (Vienna), Dr Guy Makin (Manchester, Chair), Professor Robert Falconer (Bradford), Dr Bengt Hallberg (Sweden), Dr Daniel Morgenstern (Great Ormond Street), and Dr Frank Westermann (Germany).

The Trustees decided to make 5 awards immediately and applicants were advised of outcomes in June.  Should additional funds become available, further awards may be made later in the year.

2016

The Institute of Cancer Research, Sutton

£197,732 over 2 years has been awarded to Professor Louis Chesler for a project entitled “Targeting ATRX Loss of Function and Alternative Lengthening of Telomeres (ALT) in High-Risk Neuroblastoma (HR-NB)”.  This work aims to develop effective treatments for children which do not respond to current therapies and have a very poor prognosis.

The Institute of Child Health, London

£133,063 over 2 years has been awarded to Dr Andrew Stoker for a project entitled“Functional characterisation of tyrosine phosphatases as novel oncoproteins in neuroblastoma cells”. This project aims to provide proof that specific molecules trigger tumourigenic behaviour in neuroblastoma cells.

Brunel University, Uxbridge

£115,073 over 3 years has been awarded to Professor Arturo Sala for a project entitled “Investigating the role of exosomes in MYCN tumourigenesis”. This work is investigating a process of how neuroblastoma cells might spread throughout the body.

University of Cambridge

£58,982 over 1 year has been awarded to Professor Anna Philpott for a project entitled “Synergistic interaction between the master regulator Ascl1 and Wnt signalling drives neuroblastoma”. This project is investigating a new and promising target for therapy based on results from studying the differentiation of neuroblastoma cells.

University College London

£24,636 has been contributed in part-funding for a project developing more efficient immunotherapy protocols. The project is also funded by Action Medical Research (who are administering the project) and Great Ormond Street Hospital. The work is run by Dr John Anderson and is entitled “Optimising Cellular Immunotherapy for Neuroblastoma”.

ON-GOING PROJECTS

2015

University of Southampton

£70,000 over 3 years was awarded to Dr Juliet Gray for the project “Combining immunomodulatory monoclonal antibodies with chemotherapy to generate therapeutic neuroblastoma immunity”.  A further £20,000 has been contributed locally making the total cost £90,000. The aim of this work is to determine which combinations of immunotherapy and chemotherapy are likely to be most effective to combat neuroblastoma.

2014

Leeds Institute of Molecular Medicine

£106,237 over 2 years was awarded to Professor Susan Burchill and Professor Deborah Tweddle for the project “Isolation and characterisation of neuroblastoma cells in the bone marrow to inform therapeutic benefit”. These studies aim to improve treatment for children in relapse by identifying the few cancer cells that may still be present after treatment and cause relapse.

The Institute of Cancer Research (Sutton)

£206,273 over 3 years was awarded to Dr Louis Chesler for the project “Therapeutic Inhibition of MYCN – discovery and targeting of novel MYCN binding proteins in neuroblastoma”. The project follows on from previous studies and aims to find out ways of inhibiting the action of MYCN, which is associated with a major effect on the severity of neuroblastoma. The project includes studies in preclinical models.

University of Glasgow

£59,958 over 2 years was awarded to Professor Rob Mairs, Dr Colin Rae and Dr Mark Gaze for the project “177Lu-DOTATATE combined with radiosensitisers to enhance targeted radiotherapy of neuroblastoma”. Action Medical Research has contributed a further £119,916, making the total cost of the project £179,874. These studies aim improve the efficiency of radiotherapy.

University of Liverpool

£183,958 over 2.5 years was awarded to Dr Violaine See, Dr Diana Moss, Professor Paul Losty and Professor Barry Pizer for the project “Advanced in vivo imaging and transcriptomic analysis of neuroblastoma metastasis in a chick embryo model”. The work aims to understand neuroblastoma metastasis and suggest ways in which it might be reduced.

University of Bristol

£118,643 over 3 years was awarded to Dr Karim Malik, Dr David Matthews and Dr Sebastien Oltean for the project “A novel target for destabilization of the MYCN oncoprotein”. Smile with Siddy has contributed a further £55,000, making the total cost of the project £173,673.This project is looking at one specific method for inhibiting MYCN, an important neuroblastoma oncoprotein.

University of Cambridge

£178,571 over 2 years was awarded to Dr Anna Philpott and Dr Louis Chesler for the project ”Therapeutic use of kinase inhibitors to reactivate neuroblastoma differentiation”. This project is examining ways of inducing neuroblastoma cells to revert to normal behaviour and differentiate.

Northern Cancer Research Institute, Newcastle

£47,234 over 2 years was awarded to Dr Deborah Tweddle and Dr Lindi Chen for the project “Preclinical testing of combinations of new therapies which target the genetic defects present in neuroblastoma”. Niamh‘s Next Step has contributed a further £75,000 making the total cost of the project £122,234.This aims to identify whether there are any particularly effective combinations of new drugs for neuroblastomas which are associated with known genetic defects.

2012

Institute of Cancer Research (Sutton)

£213,844 over 3 years awarded to Dr Louis Chesler for a project entitled “Development of ALK-targeted therapeutic strategies using genetically-engineered models of ALK-driven neuroblastoma”.

Clinical trials and studies

 £30,000 was awarded to SIOPEN (International Society of Paediatric Oncology - Europe Neuroblastoma) through the UK co-ordinator Dr Kate Wheeler to provide financial support for half of the UK‘s SIOPEN annual levy.  This work is also supported by other UK neuroblastoma charities.

£11,876 was awarded to Dr Michael Pike, Dr Ming Lim and Dr Bethan Lang to support the "UK Multicentre Study of Children with Opsoclonus Myoclonus Syndrome (UMSCOM)"