“We’ve reduced treatment-related deaths among Indian children with leukaemia”

After leading research in Manchester that helped to improve survival rates among children with Acute Lymphoblastic Leukaemia (ALL) by 10% in the UK, Professor Vaskar Saha, Paediatric Oncologist at the Royal Manchester Children’s Hospital has taken the knowledge he has gained to India.

Our research contributed to the creation of standardised protocols for the treatment of ALL in the UK that recommend what combinations of therapies to use and at what intensity according to the characteristics of the patients and their disease. Following our success, similar approaches were adopted across Europe and the US.

In India, there are compounding issues. There is no equivalent to the NHS and both cost and side effects of therapy are formidable. We identified that a major priority was to reduce mortality among children with ALL that could potentially be attributed to the side effects of high-intensity treatment. To tackle this issue, we are testing a new approach to treating childhood ALL in India by identifying patients who do not require intensive therapy, thereby decreasing both the cost and burden of treatment.

Early indications suggest that treatment-related deaths have decreased from 20% to around 5% in the first year of the study and we hope to bring this down to 2%, with survival rates in childhood ALL comparable to those in the west by 2021.

Read more about Professor Saha’s research and Manchester’s historical successes in the treatment of ALL

Watch: How Manchester led a revolution in ALL care