New Drug Development Strategy Meeting

September 2017, Cambridge 

Neuroblastoma UK and Smile with Siddy are very generously funding an international meeting (New Drug Development Strategy Meeting) in Cambridge in September this year with the aim of improving therapy for children and adolescents with neuroblastoma. This meeting is being run by one of our Patrons, Prof. Andy Pearson.

Genes and other molecular factors are being increasingly discovered which drive neuroblastoma. The MYCN gene has for for a long time been known to be highly expressed in an aggressive type of neuroblastoma that is normally diagnosed in children aged 1-3 years. Much more recently, a number of factors that modify the protective ends of chromosomes have been found to be implicated in the very poor prognosis of neuroblastomas diagnosed in older children. New treatments are urgently needed to target this type of disease.

At present patients with neuroblastoma are treated according to the aggressiveness of their tumour (low, intermediate or high risk). An alternative way to treat neuroblastoma is to target these genes and molecular factors. For this, drugs need to be identified from existing treatments and from new drugs being developed for adult cancers that are likely to target these molecular factors and benefit children with neuroblastoma.

Scientific and clinical experts, regulators and representatives from pharma are being brought together from Europe and North America for the New Drug Development Strategy Meeting, to identify new drugs that will tackle MYCN or that will prevent abnormal chromosome ends developing.

The end product of the meeting will be an international (European and North American) consensus of which drugs should be investigated to target these molecular factors. We will report on this meeting in our next Newsletter. Ultimately, once drugs targetting the different types of disease are being used the outcome of children with neuroblastoma will improve and more children will be cured.