The EBMT Inborn Errors Working Party member and paediatric haematologist Robert Wynn is exchanging his blouse for his crampons to cycle the Tour de France for Cure Leukaemia. Rob was interviewed by EBMT before his departure on June 24th.
Rob, could you please introduce yourself and explain your role within the EBMT?
I am a British Paediatric Haematologist, and have been a consultant in Royal Manchester Children’s Hospital since 1998. I am part of a great team there in BMT. We are all linked together – in units, in countries and between countries. EBMT has taught us this!
Within EBMT I am an active member of the Inborn Errors Working Party (IEWP), because of Manchester’s long-standing interest in allogeneic and now stem cell gene therapy of these disorders. Actually, I have helped write the chapter on these disorders in the EBMT handbooks, including the current edition.
I come from Liverpool. I am a Liverpool fan. I have always been a keen cyclist. In 1985 I was a student in Cambridge, and took my bike to Gdansk, and cycled home with a student friend. We cycled through Polska, Slovakia, Hungary, Austria, Germany and then Belgium, and home.
Cycling gives access to great spaces, and to all people.
And so, the haematology. We have seen such changes in these years, even since 1998. Kids have more treatments and we cure so many more. It has been such a journey, and there is more to achieve.
What are the clinical trials you are working on currently for children and young people
In Manchester in recent years, we have pioneered the use of mismatched cord blood in refractory and high-risk AML, and I gave a talk on this at the 49th Annual Meeting of the EBMT in April in Paris. We have also completed and published an investigator-initiated, Manchester-only, study of granulocytes in CB in post-transplant refractory relapsed AML. In this study we have sought to expand in-vivo mismatched CB derived T cells, after granulocyte transfusions. There is massive T cell expansion, there is a CRS, and there is apparently a disease response with most children entering remission.
The future is in trials. We have treatments, and we need to get them to the kids. Regulations are important and we need to learn always what is right.
Please explain the initiative you're taking part of with the UK blood cancer charity, cureleukaemia?
I will cycle the Tour de France route in 2023. We will cycle one week before the pro-race. And we will cycle to raise awareness of the need to speed access to trials in kids. And to raise funds. We will do the whole route – all 3400km and all the mountain tops.
I am riding with a UK charity, Cure Leukaemia. This is the official UK charity partner of the Tour de France. I will ride with a team of other riders and aim to raise together over £1M. This money will fund the infrastructure of a transplant trials network for adults (and soon children, we hope) that accelerates trial opening by placing all the regulatory matters within a central body. Trials of agents that are ready can therefore more rapidly reach the bedside and the children there that need them.
Riding at the Tour de France is tough and requires astounding physical and mental preparation. How did you train?
I have trained hard during the winter, indoors and outdoors. I have never been so fit. But sill I wonder, am I fit enough?! Now only the 3 weeks of the tour will tell!!
How can we support you during The Tour?
Please support me. We are a community and we do this together. Follow me, support me, give me hope, and I will get over these hills and for our common cause.
My strava link is: https://www.strava.com/athletes/15625966
My Twitter is: @rob_wynn_TdF
My fundraising page is: https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/prof-rob-wynn-bmt-leukaemia-trials-children-now
Thank you Rob for answering our questions and on behalf of the EBMT, good luck!
We would be delighted to hear from you after the Tour and read about your memories and experience and if you reach your target!