A Kirklees MP is leading a bid to secure UK vaccine trials for the childhood cancer neuroblastoma.
Two communities in Kirklees have raised a combined £1 million to help seven-year-old Eden Smith from Holmfirth and Beau, aged four, from Roberttown.
Bivalent Vaccine treatment – which helps prevent the cancer returning – is currently only available in New York and with travel to the United States and living expenses the package of treatment costs £300,000-plus per child.
Now Batley & Spen Labour MP Kim Leadbeater and Tom Tugendhat, Conservative MP for Tonbridge and Malling, have convened a roundtable of experts to advise on efforts to secure UK-led vaccine trials.
The talks will be held in London today (Monday June 27) and have been organised with support from the charity Solving Kids’ Cancer UK.
Beau’s mum Shirley Hepworth is a constituent of Ms Leadbeater and she will attend the meeting along with another parent, Claire Scott.
The roundtable will also hear from medical experts and representatives of cancer charities Neuroblastoma UK and Solving Kids’ Cancer.
Ms Leadbeater said: “Parents like Shirley in my constituency have done amazing work with strong community support to raise the huge sums needed to send children like her brave daughter Beau to America for treatment.
“A UK-led trial would save other families from the burden of having to fundraise and allow them to concentrate on looking after their kids at home. I look forward to discussing what needs to be done to bring this about as soon as possible.”
Neuroblastoma accounts for 10% of deaths in the UK from childhood cancer and Gail Jackson, CEO of Solving Kids’ Cancer UK, said: “Government funding support for this type of UK initiative will greatly accelerate progress, guarantee trial delivery, and ensure UK children with cancer and UK academic research institutions are at the very forefront of international developments.
“Most impactfully of all, if the vaccine is shown to be effective, it could save the lives of many children with neuroblastoma who would otherwise die.”
In just a few months two communities rallied round to support the families of Eden and Beau. Eden’s fundraiser totals more than £430,000 while Beau’s is over £630,000.