Funding secured for Interfant-21 clinical trial


Infant Acute Lymphoblastic Leukaemia (ALL) has had a very poor prognosis and survival has not improved significantly over the last two decades, with an event-free survival rate of less than 40%. The intensive chemotherapy treatment currently available necessitates high toxicity often leading to treatment related mortality. 

Since 2014 The Kids’ Cancer Project has committed over $931,000 into Infant ALL research at the Telethon Kids Institute in Perth. Improvements in future outcomes have required a shift from intensive chemotherapy to replacement with less toxic and more effective treatments. 

Dr Rishi Kotecha current project that is funded by support from The Kids’ Cancer Projects donors has discovered effective novel drugs, which were not currently being used to treat babies with leukaemia. By evaluating novel drug combinations and testing them in model systems they can be fast-tracked to the clinic to improve survival and quality of life.

Dr Kotecha said,

“The Kids’ Cancer Project has provided longstanding support for my preclinical research, which has focused on testing novel therapies to improve the dismal outcome for infants diagnosed under one year of age with acute lymphoblastic leukaemia (ALL). With this support, I have been able to build a preclinical testing pipeline where I have developed unique models of the disease derived from patient samples and I have used these models to test promising new drugs”

The Kids’ Cancer Projects ongoing commitment for almost a decade has allowed our bold and innovative researchers to progress exciting results identifying several different and novel anti-cancer drugs to treat a highly aggressive cancer afflicting infants who are diagnosed under one year of age with acute lymphoblastic leukaemia (infant ALL)

The funding from The Kids’ Cancer Project donors has ultimately allowed the research team to rigorously test a suite of drugs, so the best possible treatments reach the clinic and improve the outcomes of our very young patients with leukaemia.

Owen Finegan, CEO of The Kids’ Cancer Project said, “after a decade of research funding into Infant ALL it is amazing that our continued commitment will allow an important trial to be opened shortly in Australia investigating a treatment protocol for infants with leukaemia, a rare disease that comprises only about 4% of all childhood ALL.”

The exciting news of funding from the Australian Government Medical Research Future Fund, under the Clinical Trials Activity initiative, and The Kids’ Cancer Project will see the Interfant-21 study in Australia jointly fund for up to five years to the tune of approximately $1.2 million.

In addition to leading a successful preclinical research program, Dr Kotecha is also the National Principal Investigator of international clinical trials for infant ALL, including the upcoming Interfant-21 study. Dr Rishi Kotecha said,

“The promising pilot data that has emerged with the use of blinatumomab for infant ALL will be rigorously tested in this phase three study and there is strong optimism that it will shift the needle to finally improve outcomes for this aggressive cancer.’”

You can help researchers do better for kids with leukaemia like Roxy

In just five hours, four-year-old Roxy went from a routine visit to the dentist to being diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukaemia (ALL). 

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