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Wee Oscar Knox legacy helps fund ground-breaking drugs trial

The trial will happen in the US and Europe in the hope of delivering a less toxic cancer treatment for kids

Now the legacy of wee Oscar, who died after a mammoth battle against cancer, is helping other children facing the same fight.

And £60,000 raised in his name by #TeamOscar is part funding the trial.

Oscar’s family, who championed him through every moment of his battle against neuroblastoma as he captured the hearts of Northern Ireland, thanked their supporters for helping secure an innovative new drug trial for other children diagnosed with the same disease.

Oscar, from Mallusk in Co Antrim , was diagnosed with neuroblastoma in November 2011.

And when treatment options ran out in the UK, a public fundraising appeal for £250,000 meant his family could pay for Oscar to access immunotherapy in America, to help stop the disease returning.

Oscar Knox, who captured the hearts of the nation, sadly lost his battle to a rare form of childhood cancer

In April 2013, they were overjoyed when scans came back all-clear.

In his short life he won over the hearts of people around the world including Olympic medal winners Paddy Barnes and Michael Conlan as well as Barry McGuigan and Carl Frampton .

City Hall went red in support of Oscar Knox

And his cheer and strength throughout his illness inspired a record number of people donating blood at a City Hall blood drive in 2014.

Brave 'wee Oscar'

Devastatingly, just four months after his all-clear, the cancer returned and in May 2014, brave Oscar passed away. He was just five years old.

His parents Stephen and Leona said they feel huge pride that money raised in their son’s name will help other children.

In a family statement, they said: “£60,000 raised for, and in Oscar’s name, has given the green light to a new clinical trial that will benefit children and families diagnosed with neuroblastoma close to home.”

The ground-breaking new trial will be delivered at The Royal Marsden Hospital, England, and 16 other hospitals across the USA and Europe.

If successful, it is hoped that this drug will be approved for use in record time because of the large numbers of participants across the UK, USA and Europe.

And it is hoped it will be a “low toxicity, frontline treatment for ALK-positive neuroblastoma patients”.

Stephen and Leona Knox said: “We are so thankful to the incredible #TeamOscar donors who have made this possible and continue to raise funds for research in partnership with Solving Kids’ Cancer in our son’s name.

“Available in the UK, this trial will provide an option and hope to some families where previously there may have been none.

“There is nothing more devastating as a parent than reaching a point in your child’s cancer journey where there are no further treatment options.

“We reached this all too soon with our son Oscar, and are desperate to help ensure future families will not need to face this nightmare.

“Neuroblastoma is one of the most cruel and devastating childhood cancers, which urgently needs investment in research.”

Solving Kids’ Cancer orchestrated this trial in an unprecedented international collaboration with other charities, researchers and industry.

A spokesperson said: “While it’s vital that we can help families like Oscar’s to raise funds for pioneering clinical trials abroad that could help their children beat cancer, ultimately, we want the best treatment options to be available for children here, so that families don’t have to face undue strain.

“This is why we are so excited to see this innovative trial come to fruition, benefiting children in the UK, whilst working towards our mission to improve survival rates for all children diagnosed with neuroblastoma.”

Little battler Zakky Brennan

Little Zakky Brennan, four, who has also been struck by neuroblastoma, is currently accessing a clinical trial in America thanks to another public fundraising appeal.

Zakky’s parents said: “With incredible support from Solving Kids’ Cancer and our local community, Zakky’s been able to access a pioneering clinical trial in the US, which we believe will give him the best chance of beating neuroblastoma.

Zakky Brennan

“But with treatment options so limited for children with neuroblastoma, it’s encouraging to know that this new trial will be available in the UK, which means families won’t need to fundraise hundreds of thousands of pounds or face the upheaval of travelling half way around the world.”

Neuroblastoma is the most frequent type of cancer in first year of life and accounts for one in five diagnoses in children under one and 6% of all cancer diagnoses in children to the age of 14.

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