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Oscar Knox's parents hail donors for making new drug trial reality

By Allan Preston

The parents of Oscar Knox - the little boy from Mallusk who captured hearts around the world before passing away from cancer - have thanked donors for the £60,000 that will help fund trials of what could be a pioneering new drug.

Wee Oscar, as he became known, was diagnosed with neuroblastoma in 2011. His fight had backing from many famous friends, including Belfast Olympic medal-winning boxers Paddy Barnes and Michael Conlan.

Oscar lost his battle against illness in May 2014, aged five.

Now his parents Stephen and Leona have spoken of their pride that a fundraising group in his honour - Team Oscar - has helped to green-light a new clinical trial to treat neuroblastoma.

The trial is expected to open in the late summer, and is a unique collaboration between Solving Kids' Cancer, other charities, researchers and industry in both the UK and the US.

In total there will be 17 transatlantic centres in the UK, USA and Europe.

In a joint statement, Stephen and Leona said: "We are so thankful to the incredible #TeamOscar donors who continue to raise funds for research in partnership with Solving Kids' Cancer in Oscar's name.

"This has directly led to this innovative trial being made available to children in the UK, which will provide an option and hope to some families where previously there was none.

"Neuroblastoma is one of the most cruel and devastating childhood cancers, which urgently requires investment in research. There is nothing more devastating as a parent than reaching a point in your child's cancer journey where there are no further treatment options.

"We reached this all too soon with our son Oscar, and are desperate to help ensure future families will not need to face this nightmare."

Solving Kids' Cancer UK said: "Our special thanks to Oscar, his parents Leona and Stephen, and all of #TeamOscar's donors and fundraisers for helping to bring this innovative international clinical trial to fruition, that will benefit children here in the UK, continuing Oscar's legacy."

The proposed new treatment involves taking a daily tablet named lorlatinib. It targets the mutated ALK gene, which is often a sign of lower survival rates in children with neuroblastoma.

It is hoped the drug will be a low toxicity, front line treatment for ALK-positive neuroblastoma patients, and that it can be approved in the USA and Europe.

For more information visit www.solvingkidscancer.org.uk

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