About the Project

Establishment of the Global Acute Leukaemia network (GALnet)

One of the primary objectives of the pilot project was to establish an international network of collaborators to provide a platform for future investigations of the pathogenesis of childhood leukaemia. A novel approach to choosing the international partners was adopted, with the plan to link directly with clinicians and hospitals (wherever possible) as opposed to the conventional route of linking exclusively with cancer registries and/or epidemiological partners.

Potential target countries/partners were initially identified through previous contacts with members of the Steering Group, through links with IARC, and/or through literature searches of published studies. It was also important to ensure that the selected countries provided adequate global coverage and were sufficiently diverse with respect to economic development (low-, middle-, and high-income countries) and ethnicity.

To obtain additional information about the potential partners identified, a pilot questionnaire was developed and sent to all centres. In summary, information was requested about the following:

  • Number of cases of leukaemia and leukaemia subtypes diagnosed each year

  • Demographics of cases (age, sex)

  • Description of the catchment area (population size, distance to travel, etc.)

  • Funding for treatment

  • Treatment protocol and follow-up care

  • Clinical facilities available

  • Availability of medical records

  • Collection and storage of biospecimens.

To establish an international network for a multidisciplinary study of childhood ALL, a major objective of this project was to hold a meeting/workshop with representatives from the network. Therefore, a two-day kick-off meeting was held at IARC (Lyon, France) on 21-22 February 2013 to discuss and develop new strategies for future epidemiological investigations to further our knowledge and understanding of the causes and outcomes of childhood leukaemia. Before the meeting, representatives from each of the selected centres were asked to provide a presentation containing more detailed information about their centre, building on what had already been collected as part of the pilot questionnaire.

A second conference workshop and meeting were held at the Turkish Cancer Congress in Ankara on 2-4 April, 2014. Presentations included overviews of the biology and natural history of childhood ALL, established and suspected risk factors, and state-of-the-art treatment options, as well as overviews of the burden and treatment of childhood ALL from all over the world, presented by the GALnet country representatives. In addition, the second GALnet meeting was held to discuss joint research proposals that are under way.