Investigating clinical and biological factors associated with relapse

A team at Newcastle University are carrying out a neuroblastoma study that is being sponsored by Newcastle upon Tyne Hospitals NHS Trust and funded by Action Medical Research. The aim of the study is to identify clinical and biological factors associated with relapse and length of survival following relapse in the UK.

Principal Investigator: Professor Deborah Tweddle

Neuroblastoma is a type of cancer that mostly affects children. It is one of the most difficult childhood cancers to cure with around a 40% five-year survival in high-risk cases. Despite advances in treatment relapse still occurs in 50% of high-risk cases and in most high-risk cases cure is no longer possible.

Knowledge of factors which influence subsequent response and length of survival following relapse in neuroblastoma are important to determine which, if any, treatment at relapse is appropriate in individual cases, and may significantly affect the results obtained when evaluating new therapies for neuroblastoma in Phase I and II clinical trials.

Recent studies report an increased frequency of recurrent, genetic abnormalities at relapse including gains and losses of chromosomal parts (genetic blueprint of the cells) and gene mutations for which a targeted treatment exists. The present study is a retrospective epidemiological and genetic study which aims to determine clinical and genetic factors associated with neuroblastoma relapse and length of survival following relapse. This will be done by linking epidemiological data, clinical and existing genetic data analysed by contemporary genetic techniques for recurrent chromosomal losses and gains, and in some cases gene mutations and treatment information. The study will also investigate whether the median survival time following relapse is associated with the time interval from diagnosis to relapse and will analyse recurrent cases separately from refractory (resistant) cases to see if there is a difference in biology and clinical outcome between the two

The outcomes from this study will be used to inform future Phase I, II and III clinical trials for children with neuroblastoma.

A study leaflet explaining more about the study can be found here.