Clinical research trials into the efficacy of a leukaemia drug are being tested by Cancer Research UK, which says it could be used for children aged between six months and 18 years old who are no longer responding to treatment for the disease.
In the study, 15 youngsters are to be given a treatment called AT9283, which belongs to a new class of drugs called aurora kinase inhibitors, the organisation pointed out.
A number of clinical research centres around the UK are to be involved in the project, which is being led by Great North Children's Hospital in Newcastle upon Tyne.
Chief investigator Professor Josef Vormoor stated it is "devastating" for physicians to have to inform parents the leukaemia their child has beaten has come back.
"So I'm incredibly excited about the launch of this trial, to see if a new drug can treat the disease when a child has stopped responding to current treatments," he said.
Dr Nigel Blackburn, director of drug development at Cancer Research UK's Drug Development Office, added "amazing progress" has been made in the field of childhood cancers over the course of the last few years.
He pointed out only around one-quarter of children affected by cancer survived 50 years ago, but this figure has now improved to three-quarters living through the disease, although he stressed there remains an "urgent need" to develop new drugs for young people with leukaemia.
"The launch of this first trial of a completely new treatment for childhood leukaemia is incredible news and we’ll be watching the results with great interest," said Dr Blackburn.
Dr Neil Fleshner, from Princess Margaret Hospital in Toronto, recently led a study in Canada that showed dutasteride can be effective in slowing the rate of growth of prostate cancer, which may allow doctors to delay invasive surgery in patients.