Arkansas Children’s Hospital (ACH) will be the first site in the nation to enroll patients in a therapeutic clinical trial designed to fundamentally change how children with acute leukemias are treated.
The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society will launch the worldwide Pediatric Acute Leukemia (PedAL) Master Clinical Trial this summer to expedite the development of new targeted treatments for hard-to-treat childhood leukemias and replace one-size-fits-all chemotherapy with therapies tailored to each child’s unique disease.
Before enrolling in therapeutic trials, parents can enroll a child in the PedAL screening trial to identify the unique tumor biology of each child’s cancer and help them identify the most promising treatment for their specific type of leukemia. Arkansas kids fighting leukemia will have access to PedAL’s therapeutic trial at Arkansas Children’s Hospital in Little Rock, and patients will be able to enroll in the screening trial and have follow-ups at Arkansas Children’s Northwest (ACNW) in Springdale.
Through the support of the Arkansas Children’s Research Institute (ACRI), ACH can rapidly initiate important clinical trials to offer cutting-edge therapies and ensure unprecedented health for all children in the region.
“PedAL will be a paradigm-changing clinical study and will provide so much hope for families of children with relapsed and hard-to-treat leukemias,” said Dr. Jason Farrar, a PedAL investigator who directs the leukemia and lymphoma program at Arkansas Children’s. He is also an associate professor in the Department of Pediatrics in the College of Medicine at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences (UAMS) and a member of the UAMS Winthrop P. Rockefeller Cancer Institute. “Kids are not little adults. They need safe and effective cancer treatments developed specifically for them, which is what PedAL is doing.”
“Keeping these children near their homes and families during cancer care is crucial,” Farrar said. “By offering this trial, we are giving kids with leukemias more opportunities to not only survive, but truly thrive.”
Because blood cancers are more common in adults, there is a larger incentive for new treatments to be developed in that population, and progress for pediatric acute leukemia has fallen behind. For children, including those with aggressive forms of cancer, a delay in research and therapies can threaten their survival. Only 69% of kids with acute myeloid leukemia (AML) will survive more than five years, according to ACH. Even when treatments are effective, more than 70% of childhood cancer survivors have a chronic health condition and 42% have a severe, disabling or life-threatening condition 30 years after diagnosis.
Through partnerships with the National Cancer Institute (NCI), part of the National Institutes of Health (NIH); Children’s Oncology Group (COG); and the European Pediatric Acute Leukemia (EuPAL) Foundation, PedAL trials will be available to children and families worldwide.
Parents who want to learn more can visit www.lls.org or call 1-800-955-4572 to reach the Information Resource Center.
The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society is a global leader in the fight against blood cancer with a mission to cure leukemia, lymphoma, Hodgkin’s disease and myeloma, and improve the quality of life of patients and their families.