In October, the Air Conditioning & Mechanical Contractors’ Association (AMCA) held their national conference in Fiji at the beautiful Sheraton Fiji Resort and gave kids’ cancer research a seat at the table.
Established in 1961, the Air Conditioning & Mechanical Contractors’ Association is a nationwide industry body that represents businesses operating in the commercial heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) industry.
AMCA have had a tremendous impact on driving innovative medical intervention to provide children with cancer kinder, more effective treatments through an eight-year partnership with The Kids’ Cancer Project.
Since 2010, the federated association’s members have raised over $400,000 through a number of fundraising events. And it’s gone toward research into childhood cancer.
Over the years, their generosity hasn’t waned and it was with great pleasure that The Kids’ Cancer Project’s CEO, Owen Finegan, was invited to the annual conference in Fiji to speak and raise much needed funds for childhood cancer research. In fact, $75,000 was raised over the course of the event.
AMCA members were challenged to lose their locks and raise funds for childhood cancer research.
“We are grateful for our strong relationship with AMCA and for the overwhelming compassion its members have for kids with cancer,” said Finegan.
“AMCA’s support has led directly to investment in major research projects,” he said. “The greatest thanks we can pass on is to let them know the impact their support is having on the lives of children diagnosed with this insidious disease.”
AMCA generosity across the years has assisted in the support of several projects including the upgrade of a PALM Laser Capture Microdissection (LCM) microscope. The microscope dissects and then catapults individual cells for genetic analysis and allows a precise understanding of the genetics of disease, and offers new opportunities to explore prevention and treatment strategies for patients. This will make a great difference to advancing research into childhood cancer.
In 2017, The Kids’ Cancer Project was successful in receiving a further $70,000 in funding through a Perpetual IMPACT grant to perform next-generation sequencing of normal DNA to identify new genetic variants that could be associated with increased cancer risk.
Read more: Next-gen sequencing to identify gene mutations in childhood cancer patients.
This project enhances genetic changes already known to contribute to increased cancer risk and will substantially extend the understanding of the genetic basis of childhood cancer, laying the foundation for a comprehensive national screening program.
The Cancer Gene Therapy and CAR T Cell project has also been supported by AMCA. The long-term goal for researchers is to have CAR T cell therapies available to patients at an earlier stage of treatment, rather than as an experimental option following treatment failure. Funding from AMCA and The Kids’ Cancer Project has allowed translation of scientific findings into an early phase clinical trial that will lay the foundation to achieve this aim.
Read more: Development of CAR T cell immunotherapies for paediatric patients.
The support of AMCA last year from the annual national conference at Hamilton Island was committed to Associate Professor John Heath’s project to establish an evidence based clinical service and clinical trials program for Tasmanian children with cancer. It allowed for the services of a clinical trials co-ordinator who is working within the Tasmanian Health Service to facilitate the paediatric oncology clinical service and trials program.
Col Reynolds, The Kids' Cancer Project Founder, presents a cheque to Associate Professor Heath at Royal Hobart Hospital in August 2017.
The Kids’ Cancer Project’s partnership with AMCA on that project led to the Tasmanian Government providing further financial commitment of $80,000 per annum over 4 years.
In 2019, AMCA’s fundraising target is an incredibly generous $100,000, which The Kids’ Cancer Project will invest into Associate Professor Alex Swarbrick’s neuroblastoma research at the Garvan Institute of Medical Research.
Neuroblastoma typically affects children aged 1-5, who often present with metastatic poor-prognosis disease, which has a less than 50 per cent 5-year survival rate. Many patients depend on high dose multi-layered chemotherapy for their treatment. This only works for some. For many, the treatment itself impacts heavily on quality of life, with many survivors suffering chronic health problems, including cardiovascular, hearing defects and secondary cancers.
Read more: Micro-RNA drugs for the treatment of neuroblastoma.
Over the next two years, the Swarbrick team are looking to develop safe and effective treatments to replace, or markedly improve, conventional chemotherapy for children with neuroblastoma. If successful, a microRNA-based therapy will be ready for clinical trials in children within four years.
“It’s an exciting project and one AMCA can be proud of supporting,” said Finegan. “AMCA understand that science is a long-game and we’re so grateful for their spirt and continued generosity.”
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