A consortium of 23 research teams will fund a study to identify the genetic factors in patients who have relapsed after treatment for acute lymphoblastic leukaemia, the most common malignant disease of childhood.

The IntReALL consortium, part of the EU Commission, will gather DNA samples from children in Europe, Japan, Israel and Australia for analysis.

Population Genetics Technologies will use IntReALL’s grant to study the resulting biobank using its GenomePooling workflows to validate associations between genetic risk factors and treatment efficacy.

Goals of the study are to understand which patients are suited to reduced toxicity treatments and to provide a basis for randomised controlled studies of potential new drugs.

"Acute lymphoblastic leukaemia affects four in every 100,000 children in Europe."

Vaskar Saha, professor of paediatric oncology at The University of Manchester and member of IntReALL said: "This study presents a unique, but highly complex opportunity to interrogate a large dataset of this malignant disease. Population Genetics has shown its expertise in the field of large population gene association studies, which would probably otherwise be too costly and error-prone for clinical researchers seeking to test hypotheses."

Acute lymphoblastic leukaemia affects four in every 100,000 children in Europe, but treatment is complex and it is not understood why some patients do not respond.

Population Genetics CEO, Alan Schafer, commented: "We are pleased to be working with the IntReALL consortium on this important multi-year study, which will allow us to demonstrate that our population-scale association study techniques can be applied to complex solid lymph node tumours, in addition to the other areas of disease genetics in which we currently work."