Science Circle Lecture by Prof. Andreas Kulozik
The German House for Research and Innovation – DWIH New Delhi together with the Chennai Consulate and Heidelberg Centre South Asia organized a Science Circle Lecture on “The paradigm of pediatric leukemia – a true success story of modern clinical oncology” at Taj Coromandel, Chennai on Wednesday, 26 October 2016. The speaker was Professor Dr.Andreas Kulozik, Chair Department of Pediatric Oncology, Hematology and Immunology at Heidelberg University. The well received lecture was attended by scientists, researchers from universities, research institutes, national research institutes, corporate world, state government representatives and doctors from reputed hospitals working on this area.
In his lecture Prof. Kulozik spoke on the progress in cure rates of children with cancer represents one of the true success stories of evidence based medicine in general and of clinical oncology in particular. This is best exemplified by acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL), which represents the most common malignant disorder in childhood, accounting for approximately 25-30% of all pediatric cancer. Before the 1970s, ALL was almost universally fatal. With the introduction of polychemotherapy and cranial irradiation ALL became a curable disease and childhood ALL protocols represent the prototypes of successful treatment strategies in hematological cancer. Current treatment protocols involve a highly individualized strategy which depends on the individual risk profile of the patient. The biology of the leukemia, the tumor load and the response treatment constitute important risk factors that are commonly used for treatment stratification. It is well established to monitor leukemia biology by cytogenetic studies and molecular genetic studies to identify negative risk factors. A particular advance of individualized treatment has been achieved with the introduction of monitoring minimal residual disease (MRD) kinetics that have been clearly shown by the German BFM-ALL study group not only to signify prognosis but also to guide clinicians in treatment decisions. MRD is now one of the most important parameters of risk stratification, which allows us to safely reduce treatment intensity in low risk patients and to effectively increase treatment intensity in high risk patients. Recent research has identified novel molecular risk parameters and new agents for treatment of high-risk leukemias. Patients on modern treatment protocols can thus expect a more than 90% chance of permanent cure. The combination of high-end preclinical and clinical research is thus fundamentally changing the outlook of children with leukemia in a fashion that is paradigmatic for the entire field of clinical oncology.