PRISM clinical trial for childhood cancers

Finding new tumour treatment and approaches for children and young people with cancers.

Collaborating for tumour treatment research.

We are proud to be providing funding to Sydney Children’s Hospitals Foundation for national coordination of ground-breaking tumour treatments for childhood cancers.

The PRISM clinical trial aims to discover whether individual personalised tumour profiling can provide a compelling new approach to the treatment of young patients who face the most aggressive cancers.  

The clinical trial study will analyse and evaluate information generated from Zero Childhood Cancer, which is focussed on finding new tumour treatment and approaches for children and young people with cancers, where they have a less than 30% chance of survival. 

Delivering more effective treatment plans

The study involves a detailed analysis of each child’s unique cancer cells in the laboratory, to help identify the drugs most likely to eliminate their specific cancer. Scientists and doctors then work to distinguish the causes of cancer in children and deliver the most effective treatment plan. The cell and tumour treatments are specifically tailored to suit each child’s cancer type. 

The program, which began in 2016, is generating a wealth of new data. There are opportunities now to evaluate the overall impact and effectiveness of this personalised therapy approach. The aim is to see whether it provides a feasible new alternative treatment for children with the highest risk cancers. 

The program is a truly national effort with scientists and clinicians aligning across Australia to bring together this clinical trial. 

Program considerations 

Coordinating all this information at a national level is a significant task, and the Children’s Cancer Foundation has stepped in to support this work by funding a clinical trial coordinator based at Sydney Children’s Hospital, Randwick. The Foundation is proudly funding Dr Dong Ahn Khuong Quang, who is a senior member of the Zero program genomic analysis team. 

“On the basic level, we want to see how personalised therapy changes treatment and outcomes for children,” said Associate Professor David Ziegler, who is leading the clinical trial. 

“There’s a huge team of scientists in laboratories around the country that look at this data, and the results are taken to a national tumour board where we discuss the results at a national level and put it all together to provide a treatment recommendation for the child.” 

“That report goes back to the clinicians, and they decide in discussion with the family how to use that information. And that’s something we’re studying in this trial – how that information is used,” he said. 

“Do they get access to the recommended treatment? Where do they get access to the treatment? If they don’t get it, why don’t they get it? Do we need to work on getting better access to drugs for children?” Associate Professor Ziegler explains these are the questions the team must also consider. 

The trial will also carry out interviews with patients and their families living with cancer to find out how useful this process has been for them, what impact it’s had on them and how it can be improved. 

“So, this will give us a lot of information, which will help us to understand other hurdles and obstacles we may need to overcome,” Associate Professor Ziegler said. 

Associate Professor Ziegler said that without the funding from the Children’s Cancer Foundation, this critical evaluation work could not happen. 

“It’s really providing that critical resource, that critical infrastructure that allows us to do this – and most importantly to coordinate it around Australia,” he said. 

“People may have a perception that funding for childhood cancer research will simply happen, but that’s not the case. The support from the Children’s Cancer Foundation helps fund the cutting-edge treatment and technology needed to run this trial.”

Associate Professor David Ziegler

Already there are very encouraging signs of success from the program. “We’re finding changes in their tumours that make a difference – in some cases, we’re finding changes in the diagnosis that then affects the treatment, and we’re finding genetic changes that in some cases can be targeted with potent new drugs. Already we’re seeing that it’s changing outcomes.” 

Donate today and support the Children’s Cancer Foundation and the Prism clinical trial in their cancer research for children.


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