A PAEDIATRIC oncology team, strengthened by funding from the Sir Bobby Robson Foundation, says it is making real progress in developing new treatments more effective and less toxic for children with cancer.

In 2016, the Sir Bobby Robson Foundation announced £1m funding for four new posts within the Innovative Therapies for Children with Cancer Unit, which has doctors, nurses and research staff based at the Great North Children’s Hospital and Newcastle University’s Wolfson Childhood Cancer Research Centre.

The team work with young patients from across the region and further afield to ensure individual treatment needs are met and to drive forward trials of new treatments.

The Foundation’s funding has enabled the unit to expand by appointing a consultant level clinical fellowship post, two specialist nursing roles and a clinical study fellowship.

Consultant paediatric oncologist, Dr Campbell-Hewson, who leads the team and describes it as, “basically the Sir Bobby Robson Cancer Trials Research Centre, but for children".

He said: “Thankfully, childhood cancer is relatively rare, we get around 110 new cases per annum in the North-East and Cumbria.

“Within the Innovative Therapies for Children with Cancer Unit, the patients we’d consider for trials of new therapies are those who have either been failed by standard, existing, therapies or else they have one of a small sub-set of conditions where we don’t have good therapies just now.

“So, when you’re thinking about coming up with new treatments for these young patients, it needs to be effective for what are now very specialist conditions.

"The posts the Sir Bobby Robson Foundation has funded in our wider team have allowed us to address this problem.

“Thanks to the funding, we’ve been able to establish a network, based in Newcastle but including Scotland and Northern Ireland and the childhood cancer centres there, so that our studies base has a much larger population."

Sir Bobby Robson launched his Foundation in 2008 to help find more effective ways to detect and treat cancer.

The work funded directly benefits cancer patients in the region and plays a significant role in the international fight against the disease - funding cutting-edge cancer treatment and innovative cancer support services.