Posted On: December 13, 2016
The Kids’ Cancer Project and Cancer Australia are pleased to announce successful applicants to the 2016 round of the Priority-driven Collaborative Cancer Research Scheme (PdCCRS).
The Kids’ Cancer Project last year increased our research funding by 15% to over $4 million, our largest ever investment. This enabled us to support 15 key research projects to improve survival and treatments, enable survivorship programs, improve capabilities and access to care and help understand childhood cancer and support drug discovery.
This Christmas we are excited to extend our commitment this financial year by co-funding 3 projects through the Cancer Australia PdCCRS. The investment in three projects is for $1,792,524.00 over a 3 year period.
This financial year we have increased our research projects by 80% committing funding to 27 research projects across 14 institutions and hospitals in Australia. The Kids’ Cancer Project is committed to supporting research projects which will have the greatest impact on childhood cancer survival.
The three research programs co-funded by The Kids’ Cancer Project are to find kinder, more effective treatments for acute lymphoblastic leukaemia (ALL), diffuse intrinsic pontine gliomas (DIPG) and neuroblastoma.
Each of these projects were ranked in the top six from more than 150 research programs after review by the National Health and Medical Research Council and the Cancer Australia PdCCRS Grant Review Committee.
Professor Richard Lock from the Children’s Cancer Institute is working on a research project that is focussed on acute lymphoblastic leukaemia, the most common childhood cancer and one of the most common causes of death from disease in children.
Glucocorticoids are among the most effective drugs used in the treatment of childhood ALL. The emergence of resistance remains a significant barrier to cure and understanding the underlying causes of such resistance will contribute to improving clinical outcome in high-risk and relapsed patient subgroups.
Professor Lock and his team recently demonstrated that glucocorticoid resistance is associated with changes in the basic structure of DNA that regulate expression of specific genes. This project will further improve understanding of glucocorticoid resistance mechanisms and facilitate the development of more effective treatments.
“This grant funding provides us with a tremendous opportunity to explore the underlying mechanisms of drug resistance in ALL, which is the principal reason for treatment failure in this disease," said Professor Lock.
"By defining such mechanisms we will also be able to develop a new class of drugs that overcome drug resistance, and thereby improve the outlook for children with high-risk leukaemia,” he said.
Dr David Ziegler’s project at Children’s Cancer Institute is co funded by Cancer Australia, The Kids’ Cancer Project and Cancer Council NSW. It will focus on improving the treatment and survival for children with brain cancer. Currently, the most devastating and most aggressive strain is DIPG, which has no effective treatment options.
Dr Ziegler and his team have tested more than 3,500 compounds and only a handful had any activity against DIPG. The most promising compound, fenretinide, is already clinically available and has a well-established safety profile.
This project offers a unique opportunity to improve the outcomes for children with this incurable cancer and the overarching aim of this project is to directly change the way clinicians manage DIPG. At its completion this project will produce the data required for a clinical trial of fenretinide combination therapy.
Dr David Ziegler said, “I’m very excited to be able to pursue this research to look for a cure for one of the most aggressive cancers, DIPG.”
Dr Daniel Carter from the Children’s Cancer Institute and his team have identified, for the first time, a potential, novel therapeutic target (a protein called FACT) in the highly malignant neuroblastoma.
In this three-year project co-funded by The Kids’ Cancer Project and Cancer Australia, Dr Carter will investigate the role of such a novel genetic driver of neuroblastoma. The findings from this research will act as a proof of concept that FACT inhibition may be a novel therapeutic approach for the treatment of that cancer.
“I would like to thank The Kids’ Cancer Project and Cancer Australia for this amazing opportunity," said Dr Carter.
"With this [funding], we will be able to continue our research into identifying new therapies for children with neuroblastoma. Hopefully one day, we will develop a cure for all kids with this terrible disease,” he said.
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