CLOSER Leukemia General Assembly: Sabine Strehl presents joint work package

(Vienna, 20.11.2023) Sabine Strehl from St. Anna Childrens Cancer Research Institute, recently participated in the CLOSER Leukemia General Assembly in Santiago de Chile, presenting alongside her colleagues Patricia Rubio and Maria Sara Felice from Garrahan Hospital, Buenos Aires. They shared the latest outcomes from their collaborative work on improving diagnostic procedures for Childhood leukemia in Latin America within the framework of the CLOSER leukemia initiative.

CLOSER Leukemia aims to equalize the survival rates of children with leukemia in Europe and Latin America. With this ambitious goal, for the past five years, an international network composed of 14 partners over 8 countries has been sharing experience, knowledge, resources, and innovative ideas.

The group of Sabine Strehl at St. Anna CCRI co-leads work package (WP) 2 of this project together with the group of Maria Sara Felice at Hospital de Pediatria J P Garrahan to better characterize leukemia subtypes and to evaluate the suitability of diagnostic procedures in the different project partners. “So far, our efforts have led to an improvement in the common definitions of leukemia subtypes and how different methodologies may be applied for their proper diagnosis in the specific settings of the countries in Latin America” summarizes Sabine Strehl. “We continuously try to empower them with the tools to better diagnose difficult cases, in both common and rare leukemia types.”

Maria Sara Felice of Garrahan Hospital is optimistic about CLOSER’s impact: “CLOSER already shows that it is possible to improve and harmonize the diagnostic assessment of children and young adolescents suffering from acute leukemia in Europe and Latin America! We made significant progress, and the new diagnostic procedures are essential for the enrollment of the patients in the most recent clinical trials. Other Latin American countries have already expressed their interest in adopting the diagnostic guidelines and procedures we have established and therefore CLOSER opens up opportunities for others to join us in our endeavor to improve the survival rates of patients diagnosed with leukemia!”

Post-meeting, participants visited the Hospital de Niños Roberto del Río in Santiago and its laboratories for an exchange of ideas on childhood cancer diagnosis. This visit was organized by CLOSER partner Myriam Campbell, clinician at the hospital and responsible for the training and exchange activities in CLOSER. Sabine Strehl, impressed by the dedication of the team, shared, “After visiting Hospital Pereira Rossell in Montevideo (Uruguay) and Hospital Garrahan in Buenos Aires (Argentina) last year, I now had the great opportunity to see Hospital de Niños Dr. Roberto del Río and the diagnostic laboratories. I was truly impressed by the dedication of the entire team and the work they are doing.”

Sabine Strehl visit ended with the Leukemia Symposium hosted by the University of Chile’s Faculty of Medicine. The event featured insightful discussions, including retired St. Anna CCRI group leader and former head of clinical genetics diagnostic team of Labdia Oskar A. Haas sharing expertise on diagnostic stratification in childhood acute lymphoblastic leukemia. Michael N. Dworzak, a principal investigator at St. Anna CCRI, virtually presented on the cutting-edge topic of “MRD by FCM in AML – where are we?” adding a dynamic perspective to the symposium.