Clinical trials are the big winners of The Kids’ Cancer Project 2018/2019 funding round, as they are a vital step to helping children with cancer today and in the future.
Over the past 14 years, the independent national charity has committed more than $36 million in funding to childhood cancer research.
In an announcement today, Chief Executive Officer, Owen Finegan, said he was pleased to add another $5.35 million to that figure.
“From 2019 – 2023, our plan is to invest over $25 million into bold scientific research that has the greatest chance of clinical success in the improvement of treatments of childhood cancers,” he said.
His statement comes after the organisation’s Board of Directors met to approve three key points of business; the FY19 budget, a five-year strategic plan, and recommendations from the Research Advisory Committee who had spent several weeks reviewing applications for funding.
Associate Professor Tamas Revesz was among the successful applicants. He will be leading the Australian and New Zealand contributions to an international clinical trial for the treatment of relapsed high-risk childhood acute lymphoblastic leukaemia.
Associate Professor Revesz has trained in Hungary, the UK and the US. He worked in the Netherlands before joining Adelaide’s Women’s and Children’s Hospital where he is currently a Senior Consultant.
Dr Paul Wood was another to have an application approved. He will lead a clinical trial named “The NORTH Trial”, a study of panobinostat in paediatric, adolescent and young adult patients with solid tumours including neuroblastoma, osteosarcoma and malignant rhabdoid tumour/atypical teratoid rhabdiod tumours.
Dr Wood is a paediatric oncologist at Monash Health in Victoria, an Honorary Clinical Associate at the Hudson Institute of Medical Research and Associate Investigator, Paediatric Precision Medicine Program.
Read more: The NORTH Trial
Both Dr Wood and Associate Professor Revesz’s trials will be sponsored by the Australian and New Zealand Children’s Haematology and Oncology Group (ANZCHOG) and will be available to children throughout Australia and New Zealand.
“We are very grateful that The Kids’ Cancer Project is committed to helping provide sustainable funding for research and clinical trials,” said ANZCHOG Chair, Dr Chris Fraser, an oncologist based at Lady Cilento Children's Hospital, Brisbane.
“Clinical trials have been the cornerstone of improvements in childhood cancer survival rates and their importance is only increasing as we strive to understand the potential of the new generation of molecularly targeted anti-cancer therapies to further increase those survival rates and minimise harmful effects of chemotherapy,” said Dr Fraser.
A third study involving clinical trials awarded funding in the new financial year is Zero Childhood Cancer, led by Professor Michelle Haber at the Children’s Cancer Institute. The program is a joint initiative of Children’s Cancer Institute (CCI) and the Kids Cancer Centre, Sydney Children’s Hospital, Randwick.
The Kids’ Cancer Project, a founding supporter of Zero Childhood Cancer has committed over $2 million to the program and other CCI research studies over the past six years.
Read more: Zero Childhood Cancer project
Spokesperson for Zero Childhood Cancer, Vanessa Tyrrell said, “Ongoing funding from The Kids’ Cancer Project will enable the continuation of the program nationally through supporting essential positions and cutting edge research.”
“This will ensure all patients enrolled on the national clinical trial have access to a robust, comprehensive world leading precision medicine testing platform, and support development of emerging molecular profiling techniques to continuously expand and enrich the Zero Childhood Cancer program’s clinical and research platforms,” she said.
Scientists familiar to The Kids’ Cancer Project family were also successful applicants for new funding. Professor Brandon Wainwright of Brisbane’s Institute of Molecular Bioscience and Dr Nick Gottardo of Telethon Kids Institute in Perth are dedicated to finding better treatments for brain cancer.
Less than one in 20 long-term survivors are capable of leading independent lives due to intellectual disability and a variety of other side effects from current treatments available such as chemotherapy and radiation. Despite advances in other fields of cancer treatment, overall survival in paediatric brain tumours has remained static for the past 30 years putting it high on the priority list of research funded for the charity.
In years to come, The Kids’ Cancer Project plan to increase funding exponentially as Mr Finegan explained.
“From 2023, we envisage that The Kids’ Cancer Project will be able to invest more than $7.5 million annually to fund science that will bring about our vision of one hundred percent survival of children with cancer while eradicating the harmful impacts treatment can bring,” Mr Finegan said.
Read more: The Kids' Cancer Project research