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04 February 2021

Study investigating treatment for acute myeloid leukaemia launches at King's

Five clinical trials, including a trial for blood cancer patients with acute myeloid leukaemia led by Dr Richard Dillon from King’s, has been announced.

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The national Trials Acceleration Programme (TAP) is a blood cancer clinical trials network funded by the charity Cure Leukaemia.

Regius Professor of Medicine at the University of Oxford & member of the government’s vaccine task force, Professor Sir John Bell, has given his backing for what he has called the “game-changing” programme.

One of these clinical trials, VICTOR, is a clinical trial for blood cancer patients with acute myeloid leukaemia (AML). VICTOR, which is funded by Cancer Research UK, is due to open at over 40 UK sites in early 2021 and will be co-ordinated by the TAP Hub.

AML affects more than 3,000 people in the UK every year and VICTOR will examine the efficacy of the treatment venetoclax as an alternative to the intensive chemotherapy currently available to patients under standard care.

The study will investigate if venetoclax is able to target and kill leukaemia cells more selectively, producing outcomes at least as good as the standard of care option with fewer long and short-term side effects. The trial will initially start with patients aged 60 or over and, if successful, younger age groups will be added. All of the laboratory diagnostics will take place at King’s.

I am delighted that so many sites across the UK (41) as well as Centres in Denmark and New Zealand will be running this important clinical trial. We are all very excited to get started to see if we can improve the standard of care for patients with AML. I am immensely grateful to the Cure Leukaemia funded TAP, its Hub and Cancer Research UK for making this study possible and it has highlighted to me how by working together we can really start to make big changes for people with this horrible disease.

Chief Investigator for VICTOR, Dr Richard Dillon from the School of Basic & Medical Biosciences

Despite the impact of COVID-19 on the delivery of blood cancer clinical trials across the UK, and the £1,500,000 fundraising shortfall Cure Leukaemia faced in 2020 due to the pandemic, TAP enabled a new study named PACE, examining the effects of COVID-19 and other infections on patients with blood cancer, to be setup in under 1 month. PACE has now recruited 200 patients from 30 UK hospitals. Work has also continued on new trials during the pandemic meaning a further 5 TAP trials are due to open in the next 12 months.

Cure Leukaemia chief executive James McLaughlin said: “Despite the ongoing challenges we are facing due to COVID-19, we are keen to highlight on World Cancer Day that pioneering treatments are still being made available to blood cancer patients across the UK. VICTOR is just one of 5 clinical trials due to be opened and delivered by TAP in the next 12 months and to ensure that this network can continue to offer hope to patients we must address the £1,500,000 fundraising shortfall we recorded in 2020.

“It is vital that we continue to raise the funds required to sustain this network and give clinicians across the UK the opportunity to trial new and potentially practice informing clinical trials.”

In this story

Richard  Dillon

Clinical Senior Lecturer in Cancer Genetics