Report on the LLR Cardiff CLL Open Day 2012
It was genuinely inspiring to meet some of the people behind the research that is changing our understanding of CLL, to get to see some of the kit behind the lab reports and research papers, and to get a broad overview of the treatments and trials coming on-line in the near future. These guys are so committed, so engaged with their work, and so determined to make life better for us CLLers, and people with blood cancers in general. It feels very good indeed to know that people of this calibre, determination, warmth, and humanity are out there working on our behalf...
It seems that our systemic, fluid, relatively slow-growing tumour type has suddenly positioned us as the lab-rats of preference for the modern cancer researcher. As they pointed out, we are an ideal source of continuous, progressive cell harvesting for research, unlike solid tumours which tend to be excised or otherwise removed and provide only a one-off harvest for the researcher. CLL is definitely emerging from its backroom role as a dull, unsexy, and somewhat overlooked orphan disease. I've been sceptical (as I'm sure many of us have) about some of the more celebratory predictions of imminent cure currently floating around the CLL sphere. However, the 'C' word was used with confidence by Professors Bunce and Fegan with potential 8-12 year time parameters suggested....
Who knows how accurate this might be, but these are level-headed clinicians and researchers who know their field inside out, and don't seem prone to hyperbole. The potential cost of some of the new treatments coming on line was quite shocking however, raising questions about how the health service will cope. With the cost of some of the newer therapies as their application across a broader range of cancers may expand. A brave new world of cancer treatment options in a society where 1 in 3 of us can expect a cancer diagnosis in our lifetime and it may demand a brave new health economy. That isn't going to be easy to fund in the current climate...
That issue aside, I think we have much to anticipate in terms of progress with CLL treatment in the coming years.
You can find a report on the meeting on LLR website together with the presentations by Professor Chris Bunce, Dr Chris Fegan and Dr Guy Pratt, recorded on the day:
Professor Chris Bunce - How we're beating CLL
Professor Chris Fegan - What are the problems faced by CLL patients
Dr Guy Pratt - The Leukaemia & Lymphoma Research Trials Acceleration Programme
We are working on other possible locations to include locations in London, Yorkshire, Scotland and the South East. We also plan to hold our regular Midlands meeting in September this year.