International cancer trial seeking cure for leukaemia opens in University Hospital Galway

Patrick Thornton, Consultant Haematologist, Beaumont Hoispital and The Hermitage Clinic, Dublin.

Patrick Thornton, Consultant Haematologist, Beaumont Hoispital and The Hermitage Clinic, Dublin.

To coincide with Cancer Week (September 25 to October 1 ), Cancer Trials Ireland has announced the opening of the Irish arm of an international cancer trial at University Hospital Galway investigating promising cures for leukaemia

It is expected that up to 60 patients from Ireland with a type of leukaemia known as CLL (Chronic Lymphocytic Leukaemia ) will participate in the trial.

The trial will also open in Cork University Hospital, University Hospital Waterford, and in Dublin, St James’ University Hospital, the Mater Hospital, and Beaumont Hospital.

The trial aims to test treatments for leukaemia that could be more effective and have fewer side effects than standard chemotherapy treatments.

CLL is the most common type of leukaemia in the western world with most cases developing in people over 55, with nearly 200 people in Ireland diagnosed each year which affects the blood, lymph glands, and bone marrow.

The international trial is being led internationally by the German CLL Study Group (GCLLSG ).

Professor Patrick Thornton, consultant haematologist at Beaumont Hospital, who has collaborated with the German Study Group on previous trials, is the chief investigator for the trial in Ireland.

Prof Thornton said; “Chemoimmunotherapy is the standard initial (first-line ) treatment for patients with CLL and with it many patients can achieve good remissions. Unfortunately, it can be too toxic for some patients because they can be less fit and unable to tolerate intensive regimens. So there is a pressing need for alternative chemotherapy-free treatments.

“In this trial we are testing a number oral non-chemo treatments and new antibodies which have proven to be effective and safe as second line treatments (treatments given when initial treatments don’t work ) with little side effects.

“We will determine which treatment is more effective and has fewer side effects than the standard chemoimmunotherapy. This is a very significant trial because of the positive results the treatments we’ll be comparing have already achieved and its size, in terms of the number of countries, research units and patients participating. I am confident it will deliver a new standard of care.”

Almost 1000 patients from 160 research units across 10 countries will participate in the trial. Participating countries include Ireland, Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Germany, Finland, Israel, Netherlands, Sweden, and Switzerland. Patients will be on the trial for up to five years.

To find out more about this trial and other cancer trials visit cancertrials.ie, or talk to your doctor and/or the cancer trials research team in your hospital.

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