Up to $20m in funding has been announced by the federal government for vital brain cancer research


On 6 February 2024, The Australian Government announced a huge funding boost for research into some of the deadliest forms of childhood cancer. The funding, which could total as much as $20m, has been welcomed by the childhood cancer research community and will help fund significant steps forward in creating effective treatments for kids with brain cancer.

Thanks to research, the survival rate for childhood cancer has consistently risen to its high today at around 86%. It's remarkable what consistent and dedicated work can achieve. That figure is a testament to the generosity of donors funding the work and of course the life’s work of countless researchers around the world.

However, some forms of childhood cancer haven’t seen the same improvement in survival. Children’s brain cancers remain amongst the deadliest forms of cancer, with one particular form called DIPG (diffuse intrinsic pontine glioma) currently being incurable. For kids with DIPG, the average survival rate is currently only 11 months.

To change that and begin giving kids with DIPG and other brain cancers a better chance of survival, funding for research – like that announced by the government this week − is essential.

On 27th November 2023, our CEO Owen Finegan, COO Kate Tannous and The Kids’ Cancer Project funded researcher Professor Matt Dun – along with other childhood cancer charities - attended Parliament House in Canberra to advocate for this increased brain cancer research funding.

“Being able to attend Parliament House and hear the stories of families touched by childhood brain cancer was extremely moving. Says Owen

From there, having the government hear this and make the decision to increase their funding commitment was incredible and represents such an important step forward.”

“We at The Kids’ Cancer Project, and I’m sure the entire childhood cancer research community are thrilled to hear that the government is committing this significant and incredibly vital funding.

“The Kids’ Cancer Project are proud to continually advocate for more funding for these particularly tragic forms of cancer and remain committed to funding children’s brain cancer research.

Since the Federal Government introduced the Australian Brain Cancer Mission in 2017, The Kids’ Cancer Project has proudly committed over $6,000,000 to the goal of doubling survival rates by 2027. Owen continues to say:

The Kids' Cancer Project CEO, Owen Finegan and COO, Kate Tannous, at Parliament House pictured with Professor Matt Dun
The Kids' Cancer Project CEO, Owen Finegan and COO, Kate Tannous, at Parliament House pictured with Professor Matt Dun

Hearing that the government recognises the importance of this work, the fact they have made an initial contribution, and are standing alongside us, other charities and of course, the children, their families and communities who are affected by a kid’s diagnosis with brain cancer, is truly wonderful.

As Mr Butler, the Minister for Health, very correctly pointed out, research is our weapon against brain cancer and we truly need bold and innovative approaches to find better treatments for the kids and their families affected by this awful disease.

One pioneering brain cancer researcher funded by The Kids’ Cancer Project thanks to the generous gifts of our community, is Professor Matt Dun. He’s been focused solely on DIPG since 2018 when his daughter, Josie, was sadly diagnosed with the disease. Josie tragically died in December 2019 from DIPG − during her journey, Matt was able to give his daughter a new combination of treatments that has paved the way for current DIPG treatments.

For Josie, these treatments, including a drug known as ONC201, helped her survive for twice the average length of time after diagnosis with DIPG. In his lab results, Prof. Dun is seeing evidence that this could be possible for other patients too.

Read more about Prof. Matt Dun’s research

Part of the funding announcement from the government includes better access to international collaboration, clinical trials and access to the potentially revolutionary drug ONC201.

Mat Dunn at the Christmas gala

On top of that, the government’s $20m in funding over the next seven years should help to:

  • Allow children with cancer access to international cancer clinical trials that are often out of reach (recognised by the Brain Cancer Mission)
  • Reduce the barriers to obtaining funding for childhood cancer clinical trials
  • Expand clinical trial opportunities in more hospitals, clinics and institutes across Australia
  • Strengthen ANZCHOG to enhance access to international childhood cancer clinical trials to reduce the research inequality children with cancer face
  • Ensure the findings from the Zero Childhood Cancer programs molecular profiling can translate to available clinical trials for children with brain cancers

A huge thank you to our incredibly generous supporters, people like you, who have enabled the millions of dollars of funding to reach brain cancer researchers so far. And of course, a big thank you to the government for their decision to support this vital research.

By making a gift, you can help support vital kids’ cancer research like Professor Matt Dun's. Make a donation today to help fund the development of lifesaving new childhood cancer treatments.

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