The Children’s Cancer Foundation has prioritised clinical research and clinical trials since 2008.
The Children’s Cancer Foundation has prioritised clinical research and clinical trials. These are key to developing more successful and kinder treatments. The Foundation has supported hospital staffing and trial costs since 2008, enabling children to access critical clinical trial treatments.
Recent advances in genomic techniques are driving the development of treatment programs customised to the individual child based on the characteristics of their cancer (or the molecular and genetic disruptions that have occurred in their bodies).
Through genomic analysis, researchers can understand the aspects of individual cancers, define how these respond to different forms of treatment, and design a targeted therapy for that child.
Many of the new and emerging adult cancer drugs are relevant to childhood cancer. Clinical trials, considered by hospitals as research, is the first opportunity for a child to be treated with a new cancer drug. Hospitals do not fund clinical trial research and the cost of these trials, such as staff salaries, is funded almost exclusively by philanthropy.
The Hudson Monash Paediatric Precision Medicine Program utilises individual patient’s tumour cells to identify new therapeutic targets and repurpose existing targets. Research into brain cancer, central nervous system tumours and Wilm’s tumours, will lay the foundation for establishing a systematic pipeline to test and identify personalised cancer therapeutics for paediatric cancer patients with the greatest unmet clinical need.
The outcome of this $1.3 million investment by the Foundation will be proof of concept functional diagnostic screens based on each cancer’s unique genetic profile using paediatric organoid models. Successful completion of this pilot phase will lead to the integration of comprehensive molecular analysis into clinical management by guiding molecular-targeted therapeutics for cancer patients.
Immunotherapy Clinical Trials
For decades, the only methods of treating cancer were surgery, chemotherapy or radiation therapy. Treatments have evolved towards targeted immunotherapies – treatment that utilises the patient’s immune system to combat cancer. Lymphocytes are withdrawn from a patient, re-engineered to boost their tumour-fighting ability, and then re-infused in the patient. Treatments using these genetically engineered immune cells have generated remarkable responses.
In 2016, The Royal Children’s Hospital opened an immunotherapy trial for relapsed acute lymphoblastic leukaemia(ALL) patients, available outside of the United States for the first time. The Children’s Cancer Foundation funded staff resources for the trial.