Around 1 in 5 people diagnosed with cancer in the UK take part in a clinical trial.
A trial looking at imatinib (Glivec) for children and young people with acute lymphoblastic leukaemia (EsPhALL trial)
This trial looked at imatinib (Glivec) for children and young people with Philadelphia positive acute lymphoblastic leukaemia (ALL).
More about this trial
Chemotherapy is the usual treatment for children with ALL. But sometimes this doesn’t work very well and the leukaemia can start to grow again.
In some children, the ALL cells have an abnormal
Imatinib blocks an
The aim of this trial was to find out how well imatinib works for children with Philadelphia positive ALL. And to see what the side effects are when given with chemotherapy.
Summary of results
The trial team found that children and young people given imatinib with chemotherapy had some benefit from the addition of imatinib. They also found that people coped with the treatment.
In total 178 children and young people took part in the trial. The trial team looked at how well people responded to their first lot of chemotherapy (remission induction). They divided them into good risk and poor risk.
Everybody in the poor risk group had chemotherapy and imatinib. This was 70 people in total.
The people in the good risk groups were randomised to
- chemotherapy and imatinib (46 people)
- chemotherapy alone (44 people)
128 children and young people from both the poor risk and the good risk groups went on to have an
The trial team wanted to see how many people in the good risk groups were free from leukaemia 4 years after starting treatment. This is called disease free survival. And how many people in the poor risk group were either free from their leukaemia or any complications linked to their leukaemia after 4 years. This is called event free survival.
The trial team followed the people in the trial for an average of just over 3 years (3.1 years). They found
- 34 people (72.9%) in the good risk group who had imatinib were free from leukaemia
- 27 people (61.7%) in the good risk group and who did not have imatinib were free from leukaemia
37 people (53.5%) in the poor risk group had either no sign of their leukaemia or no complications linked to their disease.
The side effects in all the groups were similar. The most common side effect was infection caused by a drop in the white blood cells.
The trial team concluded that giving imatinib in addition to other treatment for Philadelphia positive ALL was useful.
They think there are more areas for research in the use of imatinib for this group of people. For example, there might be value in giving imatinib earlier in the treatment, more continuously or for longer. They are interested to see if this would mean that less people would need to have an allogeneic stem cell transplant. And so avoid the side effects of this treatment.
We have based this summary on information from the research team. The information they sent us has been reviewed by independent specialists (
How to join a clinical trial
Professor Vaskar Saha
Central Manchester University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust
Children's Cancer and Leukaemia Group (CCLG)
Experimental Cancer Medicine Centre (ECMC)
NIHR Clinical Research Network: Cancer