Cancer breakthrough happened by chance
Darrin Batchelor never imagined his four-year-old daughter's achy knee would turn his family's world upside down, but within 14 hours of a visit to the doctor, she was in hospital.
On Monday, after Isla went to swimming training, he and wife Sarah decided to book a GP appointment for the next morning.
"We got called back there in the afternoon with the blood test results and were told Isla had leukaemia and had to go to hospital straight away," Mr Batchelor recalled.
"From Tuesday morning, thinking maybe it was growing pains, to having her in hospital that night with a child with cancer, was horrible."
Her treatment began the next day and the bright and bubbly little girl soon transformed, with horrific side effects from the potent chemo doctors used to blast her aggressive T-cell Lymphoblastic Leukaemia.
"During one phase was really intense chemo, she developed internal ulcers all the way from her mouth through to her bum," Mr Batchelor said.
"It was horrific. She had to be placed on a morphine drip for quite some time just to get through it. She couldn't eat, she was coughing up blood. It was just horrible."
Now, a major breakthrough by an Australian researcher could prevent any other children like her from having to endure similar reactions.
Side effects to chemotherapy are common, ranging from nausea to hair loss and immune system complications. And that's just in the short-term.
Given the constantly growing bodies of children, there are long-term implications from chemo - many of which are still unknown.
Charles de Bock from the Children's Cancer Institute in Sydney has discovered that the use of an old Alzheimer's drug could allow the treatment of T-cell leukaemia without any toxicity or side effects.
"A chance corridor conversation with this Alzheimer's researcher led to this idea of seeing if this particular drug worked with leukaemia," Dr de Bock said.
"Everyone's been trying to target this particular (genetic) pathway for a long time.
"Cancer researchers don't always talk to brain researchers and neuroscientists because we're not at the same conferences."
Bumping into Roger Habets from Belgium research centre VIB-KU Leuven sparked the conversation about the disused drug, known as MRK-560.
"We made some genetic models and that worked really well," Dr de Bock said.
The hope is that MRK-560 could be used in combination with reduced doses of chemo to precision-target the cancerous cells without damaging healthy ones.
"Normal chemo is like weeding your garden with a flamethrower - it's very effective in killing the weeds but causes amazing damage to other things," Dr de Bock said.
"There are short-term side effects from chemo, but we're dealing with kids and so there are long-term implications - many of which we don't know about. It decreases fertility, for example.
"If we can decrease the dose of chemo and have a targeted precision drug, which should alleviate some of the long-term side effects."
Mr Batchelor described the breakthrough as "incredibly exciting" and wishes it had been made before Isla's "horrific" treatment journey.
"To be able to treat it with little to no side effects is just unbelievable," he said.
"We still don't know what side effects Isla is going to have in 15 or 20 years, we don't know if she'll be able to have children … the future is still unknown.
"Something like this, with low toxicity, is incredible. Imagine being able to tell a parent that the treatment can have no side effects? It's phenomenal."
Isla, now nine, is in remission but undergoes regular check-ups to ensure she stays free from cancer.
"It was like being on a rollercoaster. You get over one peak and there's another one waiting for you. Fortunately, they're getting smaller and smaller, and further apart. That's the way we look at it."
It's still early days, Dr de Bock and Dr Habets - who published findings of their groundbreaking study in Science Translational Medicine journal this week - hope the drug will soon be used in conjunction with chemo treatment.
"We've got a long way to go - it'll take a few years and a lot of investment to get this out of our hands and to the kids who really need it," he said.
"I suspect because it's already made and has been tested quite heavily, we should be able to repurpose it pretty rapidly."