GRANTS. In its latest funding round, the Swedish Childhood Cancer Fund awarded a total of SEK 146 million for Swedish research, which is a new record amount for the fight against childhood cancer. SEK 13.6 million of these grants went to research at the University of Gothenburg and Sahlgrenska University Hospital.
“Research on childhood cancer has made enormous progress; today 85 percent of children survive cancer. But the most difficult challenges still remain: we want more children to survive and do so with as few late complications as possible. In a year like this, we are especially happy to be able to award a record amount for continued research, and we have our generous donors to thank for this,” says Thorbjörn Larsson, Secretary-General of the Swedish Childhood Cancer Fund.
Tumor DNA in blood
One hundred Swedish researchers share the SEK 146 million awarded, and SEK 13.6 million in grants goes to researchers at the University of Gothenburg and Sahlgrenska University Hospital. One of them is Anders Ståhlberg at the University of Gothenburg. By analyzing the amount of tumor DNA in the blood of children with sarcoma, cancer of the bones and soft tissues, he wants to be able to monitor treatment and see if it is too intense or too mild. In this way, he hopes to reduce the risk of late complications, which currently affect a majority of children treated for cancer.
“On the one hand, it is about being able to see early on if someone has a relapse. If you find tumor DNA in the blood, you know that the tumor is back. It is also about being able to follow up and evaluate how effective different treatments are. You get immediate evidence of how the treatment is working when you see how high the concentration is in the blood,” says Anders Ståhlberg.
He received a project grant of SEK 2 million for two years from the Swedish Childhood Cancer Fund to study the possibility of using these blood analyses from children with sarcoma as the basis for determining their treatment.
Very useful in cancer care
“We strongly believe in this; it will be very useful in all cancer care and be very significant for clinical work. The fact that we can continue to develop this method will place Sweden at the international forefront in this field. It means Swedish patients will have access to the latest cancer diagnostics first. And that means that fewer children will be under- and overtreated for sarcoma,” says Anders Ståhlberg.
Read a longer interview (in Swedish) with Anders Ståhlberg on the Childhood Cancer Fund’s web: https://www.barncancerfonden.se/barncancerforskning/sa-ska-forskarna-utrota-barncancer/forskningsreportage/enkelt-blodprov-ska-optimera-behandlingen-av-sarkom–och-forvarna-om-aterfall/
Magnus Sabel is another of the researchers who has been awarded a grant from the Swedish Childhood Cancer Fund. He has been given a SEK 2.4 million planning grant for the Care Planning Group for CNS tumors (brain tumors and spinal cord tumors) in children. The group is multidisciplinary and consists of members from the university hospitals in Sweden that primarily treat these children. The Childhood Cancer Fund has supported the group with grants since it was formed in 1993. The care planning group is one of several groups that are organized under the Swedish Pediatric Association’s Section for Pediatric Hematology and Oncology.
“The care planning groups have been, and are, an important explanation for the fact that pediatric cancer care in Sweden has steadily developed and improved, and they have probably been a very important factor behind the spirit of collaboration and research-oriented clinical activities within pediatric oncology. And without the Childhood Cancer Fund, we would not have had the high standard of pediatric oncology care and research we have today; I am convinced of that,” says Magnus Sabel, chair of the group since 2018.
The purpose of the Care Planning Group for CNS tumors in children is to continuously monitor international developments in child brain tumor care on a broad front and develop recommendations for how Swedish children and adolescents with these tumors should be treated. The goal is for children with CNS tumors to receive the same level of high quality care regardless of where in the country they live.
“We want to ensure that Swedish children can participate in international treatment protocols, that tumor diagnostics continue to be developed such as within the framework of the project Genomics Medicine Sweden, to maintain and develop the Childhood Cancer Registry and the Care Planning Group Register, and to ensure that children receive good and equal follow-up after the end of treatment, especially for late side effects, which unfortunately can hit some children hard.
TEXT: SWEDISH CHILDHOOD CANCER FUND / ELIN LINDSTRÖM / SUSANNE LJ WESTERGREN
These Gothenburg researchers received funding from the Swedish Childhood Cancer Fund:
Jonas Abrahmasson (both a project grant and a planning grant)
NOPHO-AML 2012 – Treatment study of children and adolescents with acute myeloid leukemia
Planning grant for the Swedish Childhood Leukemia Group
Targeted treatment against the cancer gene MYB in acute childhood leukemias
Tailored analysis of circulating tumor DNA for evaluation of treatment for leukemia and lymphoma
The content of bone marrow during treatment of acute myeloid leukemia: leukemia cells versus regeneration
Pegah Johansson (Sahlgrenska University Hospital)
Development of diagnostics for individualized radiation and chemotherapy doses
SCRIPT-AML: A comparative study among different conditioning regimens at AML
Mechanisms and molecules important for the development of leukemia in children
Cecilia Petersen (planning grant)
SALUB – improved long-term follow-up and registration of late complications after childhood cancer
Magnus Sabel (planning grant)
Planning grant for the Care Planning Group for CNS tumors in children (VCTB)
Treatment monitoring of pediatric sarcomas via analysis of circulating tumor DNA