Pioneering Research In Spain To Develop Preventative Vaccine For Childhood Leukaemia

LEUKAEMIA is the most common childhood malignancy. It accounts for 30 pre cent of all cancers diagnosed in children under 15 years of age in industrialized countries and in Spain 350 children develop leukaemia every year.

A team from the Hospital Niño Jesús in Madrid will be conducting research over the next five years in search of a vaccine to prevent the disease from developing.

Project Cunina aims to lay the foundations for the prevention of lymphoblastic leukaemia and for children suffering from it to be cured. Research promoted by the Unoentrecienmil (One in a hundred thousand) Foundation is behind the programme which will be initiated with the participation of one hundred families.

540,000 euros has been allocated by the Unoentrecienmil Foundation for this pioneering research project to take place in which the Niño Jesús Children’s Hospital, the Salamanca Cancer Research Centre as well as the University Hospital of Düsseldorf will participate.

According to statistics, 5 per cent of children born have a predisposition to leukaemia, but only those who experience certain immunological alterations develop it. The objective is to determine what these alterations are in order to develop a vaccine that will prevent them.

According to Dr. Manuel Ramirez, head of the Advanced Therapy Unit of Niño Jesus and coordinator of the project, most children who are born with a predisposition to leukaemia do not develop it, so the aim of the research is to understand what has to happen for the child who is predisposed to leukaemia to develop it.

Dr. Manuel Ramirez further explains that, despite a child’s predisposition, immunological alterations have to take place for leukaemia to germinate, so the fundamental objective behind the project is understanding what the immune alteration is in order to reverse it.

Almost one child a day in Spain is diagnosed with leukaemia, and every day there are more cases which causes concern in the medical field with research the only way to work towards a cure.

In Spain, some 350 cases of leukaemia are recorded every year in children and, although 80 per cent of them are cured, it is still the type of cancer that results in a high number of deaths.

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Written by

Cristina Hodgson

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