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Manchester Foundation
Trust Charity

Childhood Cancer Awareness Month: Research and Innovation

RMCH Hospital
Thursday 01st September 2022

Each September, clinicians and patients across the UK mark Childhood Cancer Awareness Month. Senior Clinical Research Nurse Amy Routledge has used the month to tell our supporters a little bit about the Research and Innovation work going on at Manchester University NHS Foundation Trust (MFT)….

We are the Paediatric Oncology, Haematology and Bone Marrow Transplant Research Team. Our team consists of four Senior Clinical Research Nurses and our Nurse Manager.

We see children and young people for a huge range of reasons and invite everyone who has treatment on our Oncology and Haematology wards to take part in research in some way. We value every contribution our patients make towards research.

Our role aims to make cancer treatments safer, less toxic and more effective. We can offer our patients additional treatment options where the current treatments available to them have so far not worked. We accept referrals from all over the world and treat patients from Manchester to Australia and everywhere in between.

L-R Amy Routledge, Michelle Bullock, Emma Morton, Laura Kusyk and Kelly Watts

We offer pioneering treatment to children and young people with cancer. This may be in the form of a brand-new drug or by collaborating with other teams across the globe to find the best standard of care option we can to beat cancer. We have recently expanded our portfolio of bone marrow transplant trials, to support patients following their transplants. The nature of bone marrow transplants means they can be very tricky with a lot of potential complications. Our trials can offer innovative new medicines to give patients as many options as possible if they are faced with one of these complications along the way.

Kelly Watts is our Advanced Therapy Specialist Nurse who focusses on CAR-T and gene therapy. CAR-T therapy involves the patient’s immune cells (T cells) being sent to a lab where they are genetically engineered to target cancer cells. The T cells are given back to the patient where they recognise cancer cells in the body and kill them. Our gene therapy trials involve genetically engineering the body’s cells to produce enzymes which patients with certain metabolic conditions are unable to produce.

Our team networks across Royal Manchester Children’s Hospital and between different NHS trusts to deliver presentations and raise awareness of our trials among staff. This helps to ensure everyone at our hospital has research on their mind and can offer a seamless research journey to our patients and families. We also work very closely with our patients’ families to empower them to give their trial drugs at home. We ensure they feel supported and knowledgeable about their treatment and how to manage any side effects they may encounter along the way.

We are lucky enough to work with so many families in our role. Here’s what some of our patients and their families have had to say about their research experiences….

“Research today helps children tomorrow.”

“I am taking part in research for more information about my cancer and safety of other poorly children.”

“The research team have been amazing. We feel appreciated and well cared for, nothing seems too much trouble.”

“Without research into new trials we can’t even begin to imagine where we would be. This has given us so much more time than we could ever imagine and hope. We feel privileged to be part of a possible new life-saving drug that may hold out a cure for future children.”

Research into new medicines and therapies to cure cancer is vital and without the generous contribution of our families we would not be where we are today. Childhood Cancer Awareness Month allows us to raise support and funding, while continuing the conversation on children’s cancer.

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