At a glance

Investigating how to reduce the pain of neuroblastoma treatment, while still targeting the cancer

Lead researcher

Dr Alexander Davies


University of Oxford


Awarded and preparing to start

Amount awarded


Last updated



Neuroblastoma is the most common cancer in children under five years old.

AD Dr Alexander Davies

An antibody therapy – called ‘anti-GD2’ – has brought hope to those with the highest risk cases of neuroblastoma, helping children to survive longer.

However, this form of treatment can be extremely painful for children, as the target of the antibody, GD2, is located on nerves throughout the body.

The response of the immune system is additionally crucial for anti-GD2 treatment to effectively fight cancer. Unfortunately, research suggests that the body's natural immune response also contributes to the nerve-related pain experienced by a patient during this type of therapy.

Dr Alexander Davies from the University of Oxford is investigating the immune profiles of neuroblastoma patients undergoing this therapy, alongside colleagues Dr Simon Rinaldi, Prof Juliet Gray and Prof Stephen Beers. The team will compare periods of high and low nerve pain, and then apply these findings to experimental models with targeted immune modifications. Their work will uncover the extent to which the immune system is responsible for these pain side effects.

This knowledge will equip Dr Davies’ team to re-design a neuroblastoma immunotherapy that will reduce the body’s immune mechanisms that cause pain, while still effectively targeting cancer. Through this work, Dr Davies hopes to develop more effective treatments for neuroblastoma, and also ensure a better quality of life for cancer survivors that is free from nerve damage and pain.