The mum of a Sutton teenager who was the first child in the country to take part in the trial of a new cancer-fighting drug said his life has been saved by the ground-breaking treatment
James Morley was aged just 11 when he was diagnosed with the rare illness, Philadelphia positive acute lymphoblastic leukaemia, in April 2012.
He could see red wherever he looked and an optician said blood vessels were bursting in his eyes.
James was rushed to Nottingham’s Queen’s Medical Centre where the cancer was confirmed and chemotherapy treatment was started almost immediately.
Mum Pam Morley said: “The first year of the illness was the worst – we were back and forth between the hospital, often at a moment’s notice.
“It was like a rollercoaster – you didn’t know when you were getting off or where you were going.
“At first it was a shock, but you get used to it. You’ve got to get a grip on life and carry on – you have to pull yourself together.”
A consultant then approached his family about taking part in a research trial for a new drug called Dasatinib , which was already available for adult patients.
James became the first child in the country recruited to its global research trial.
During the next two years, he underwent regular chemotherapy, while taking the new drug once a day.
Now, aged 14, James has been in remission for more than a year – and Pam puts this down to his participation in the trial.
She said: “I believe it saved his life,.
“Without the drug, James would most likely have had to have a bone marrow transplant, something I know is complicated and risky.
“I would tell everybody to get involved in health research if they or their children are offered it – it could save your kid’s life.”
Dasatinib works by blocking a signal that tells leukaemia cells to grow.
Dr Emma Astwood, paediatric haematology consultant at the Nottingham Children’s Hospital at the QMC, said James is doing well following the drugs trial.
She said: “While results from the Dasatinib drug trial are not yet known, James has been in remission for more than a year since completing his treatment and will be undergoing regular monitoring. It is too early to say what difference the trial has made to James, but he has made really good progress to date.”
James, who returned to Sutton Community Academy earlier this month, is proud to have been part of the trial.
He said: “To be honest it feels brilliant to be part of the trial. All sorts could come out of it and knowing I can help other poorly children is brilliant.
“If you get the chance to be part of a trial definitely do it.”