During the last decades, an increasing number of children and adolescents diagnosed with leukaemia and lymphoma was systematically enrolled into national and international multicentre clinical trials.
The BFM study group was founded in 1975 in Germany, when Hansjörg Riehm in Berlin (B), Bernhard Kornhuber in Frankfurt (F) and Günther Schellong in Münster (M) initiated the first multicentre BFM trial. The BFM treatment concept – based on a very intensive chemotherapeutic approach employing eight different drugs – led to a revolutionary increase in survival of children and adolescents with acute lymphoblastic leukaemia (ALL). Since that time, the so-called “BFM treatment backbone” remained an essential component of many paediatric and adult protocols for the treatment of ALL. This unified approach was adopted by an ever-growing number of national study groups worldwide, and led to successful collaborative developments of the therapy.
Today, many of these cooperative study groups work together to further improve the existing treatments for leukaemia and lymphoma under the umbrella of the I-BFM study group. Created in 1987 as a “family get together” of the national ALL study groups of Austria (BFM), France/Belgium (EORTC-CLG), Germany (BFM), Italy (AIEOP) and The Netherlands (DCLSG), I-BFM aimedto compare treatment modalities in childhood ALL in a workshop atmosphere, and to develop common standards for diagnosis and treatment. Since then, the study group gathers every year to discuss ongoing studies general issues, as well as the development of collaborative clinical and laboratory projects related to all types of leukaemia and lymphoma.
I-BFM has become over the years an important international platform for the promotion of research and clinical care for children and adolescents with leukaemia and lymphoma. The inclusive group represents the ideal forum where researchers with a keen interest in the field can share proposals and find expressions of interest and participation. Today, an increasing number of groups is requesting to become a member of I-BFM, which currently reunites 28 study groups from 34 countrie.