They say two heads are better than one — what about lots of heads? Thanks to a St. Baldrick’s Consortium Grant, six teams of brilliant minds are working to give hope to kids with hard-to-treat leukemias.
Fifty years ago, the most common childhood cancer, acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL), was one of the deadliest.
Cure rates have gone from near zero in the mid-1960s to about 90% currently. That’s amazing, said St. Baldrick’s researcher Dr. Stephen Hunger of The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, but it’s not enough.
Zoe was four at the time, and had started limping. My animated, lively daughter, who once turned hallways into runways, was hardly moving. It was a complete, dramatic shift – something I knew was more than just growing pains.
And it was. In 2008, my sweet girl was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL), the most common form of childhood cancer. “She has good odds,” they told us. Survival rates are high for this type of cancer and she should be able to continue most of her normal activities during treatment. We were shocked, but full of hope.
Eight days later, we received a second set of news. And this time, it was worse.
Philadelphia chromosome-like acute lymphoblastic leukemia (Ph-like ALL) is a subgroup of the most common form of childhood cancer, with features including high relapse rate and poor survival. Ph-like ALL accounts for 15% of all childhood ALL. And now, for close to half of children diagnosed with this disease, the genetic variance that causes the cancer to grow has been identified!