The Swedish Childhood Cancer Foundation was able to invest record-breaking amounts in training and research in 2016. The committed businesses and individuals who contributed to the highly successful fundraising campaign made it possible to exceed the budget. “We are extremely pleased,” says Kerstin Sollerbrant, head of research at the Swedish Childhood Cancer Foundation.

Last year the Swedish Childhood Cancer Foundation allocated more grants to research and training than ever before – over SEK 238 million. The money went to an array of research projects and research positions, as well as to infrastructure and various types of training programmes for paediatric oncology personnel.

One of the new studies that it was possible to fund is ALLtogether, which aims to develop a new treatment protocol for children with acute lymphoblastic leukaemia (ALL). The disease has a survival rate of about 90 per cent, but there are still relapses that are difficult to treat. The study is investigating which drugs could be effective for relapses.

“Many children with ALL are also over-treated. Researchers are investigating how to find a balance between giving them enough medication without having severe chronic side effects,” says Kerstin Sollerbrant.

Other major studies that are underway are Biomede and Inform. Inform is an international study aimed at preventing relapses in childhood cancer patients by seeing what genetic changes are present in the sick child and by providing personalised treatment based on this information. Biomede, a European study under French leadership, is conducting research on pontine glioma, a fatal brain tumour. Sweden is now participating in this research.

“Children with this diagnosis have been given a death sentence since the tumour is located in an area that governs the central functions of the body and is therefore very difficult to operate. Because of this level of difficulty, we have not previously been able to conduct research on pontine glioma.

As part of this project, four neurosurgeons travelled to Strasbourg to learn how to safely take biopsies from this tumour. As a result between eight and ten Swedish children are expected to be able to participate in the study each year.

“Without Biomede we would not have been able to make any progress with respect to pontine glioma. The money that the Swedish Childhood Cancer Foundation raised in 2016 has also provided funding for the childhood cancer database to enable more doctors to use it, as well as for biobanks where tissue samples from the childhood cancer tumours are stored.

“All the generous donors have made it possible for us to invest in research. “We are extremely pleased that once again we have broken the record for allocation of funding for childhood cancer research,” says Kerstin Sollerbrant, head of research at the Swedish Childhood Cancer Foundation.

Go to 2016 in brief