Thank you for helping Dr Wylie fight sarcoma relapse


Tragically, sarcoma will return for one in three children even after surgery to remove the cancer - this high rate of relapse after treatment is a major cause of fatality. But with your kind support, Dr Ben Wylie and his team in Western Australia are developing a ground-breaking new treatment aiming to change that.

Speaking from his research base at the Telethon Kids’ Institute in Perth, Dr Wylie explains how a complete rethink was needed to tackle such a high relapse rate in childhood sarcoma patients:

Cancer therapy for a long time has been a lot of small improvements. We’re slowly, slowly increasing the response rates and survival rates for kids, but there haven't been that many big leaps forward.

It really hit my boss, Professor Lesterhuis, that we need to do more to make those big steps. To address the problem of cancer coming back after surgery, we had to come up with a really innovative idea and novel way to do this.

By attacking that problem head-on, we can hopefully cut those relapses right down − that's definitely going to lead to more kids surviving their sarcoma and going on to live happy healthy lives.

The team have developed a cutting-edge gel that’s applied during surgery to provide a targeted treatment exactly where the cancer has been removed. The revolutionary new approach aims to destroy any microscopic cancer cells that may have been missed during surgery that could cause a relapse and should minimise side effects compared to traditional treatments. Dr Wylie continues:

The gel is made up of normal components of your body, and that allows the body to naturally degrade it and break it down over time. This means that it’s biodegradable and the patient doesn’t have to come back in and remove it later on.

Basically, the patient could ideally have the surgery, and once they've healed, they go home, and the gel is releasing the drug. This is really important for kids because they really want to just get back to living their life as a kid.

The patient then doesn't have to come back in and have chemotherapy, radiotherapy and these other really harsh therapies that we know can really affect their development and impact their quality of life permanently.

Currently, Dr Wylie and his team have been conducting a phase one veterinary trial – meaning some pet dogs with sarcoma have had access to the cutting-edge treatment. Sarcoma in dogs is very similar to that of humans, meaning the successes of the trial so far should translate into children with sarcoma – and currently, the results are incredibly promising and have laid the groundwork for the gel being used for humans and eventually children. Speaking of what your support means, Dr Wylie says:

Without the money that organisations like The Kids’ Cancer Project put towards research, these great ideas that we have as researchers wouldn't become a reality.

I just can't thank people who donate enough. We need that funding to take these revolutionary ideas and make them a reality that can actually benefit kids with cancer and save their lives. We're really doing everything we can to come up with the next generation of therapies and it wouldn’t be possible without your support.

With a gift of $108 today, you could fund a researcher like Dr Wylie for two hours as they develop revolutionary treatments to save more kids’ lives.