WASHINGTON, Sept. 7, 2016 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The St. Baldrick's Foundation, a volunteer-powered charity dedicated to funding the most promising childhood cancer research, applauds today's release of recommendations by the Pediatric Cancer Working Group of the National Cancer Moonshot Initiative. St. Baldrick's is an active contributor to Vice President Joe Biden's groundbreaking moonshot initiative, and Danielle Leach, senior director of government relations and advocacy, represents St. Baldrick's as a member of the Pediatric Cancer Working Group.
The working group's recommendations were to focus on immunotherapy, relapsed disease and fusion oncoproteins. These three areas were selected because they address the highest need and have the most promise. In addition, the report notes the importance of data sharing to expedite research findings and outcomes, as well as furthering survivorship research to help give survivors long and healthy lives.
"The Pediatric Cancer Working Group's recommendations align with St. Baldrick's scientific priorities as well as the nation's desire to see childhood cancer research as a national health priority," says Kathleen Ruddy, CEO of the St. Baldrick's Foundation. "We are committed to ensuring it does, which is why Danielle Leach is so active in the pediatric cancer working group – just one of many ways we advocate for more and better childhood cancer research. We ask the American public to renew their desires, so frequently expressed to us, that government should play a leading role in ensuring kids can grow up cancer free."
As the largest private funder of childhood cancer research grants, the St. Baldrick's Foundation has funded more than 370 grants addressing the recommendations included in the Cancer Moonshot Blue Ribbon Panel Report.
Examples of these research projects include:
- Immunotherapy: SU2C – St. Baldrick's Pediatric Cancer Dream Team, comprised of more than 160 pediatric oncology experts in immunotherapy and genomics, has identified new therapeutics for high-risk childhood cancers and is currently conducting 17 clinical trials – with two more planned to open this year. One of many other immunotherapy researchers funded by St. Baldrick's, Dr. Greg Friedman at the University of Alabama at Birmingham and Children's of Alabama, is using the herpes virus to defeat medulloblastoma. With one gene removed, the virus is able to kill the tumor cells without killing healthy cells, and has proven to be safe and effective for adults.
- Relapse Disease: The Pediatric Blood and Marrow Transplant Consortium, funded by St. Baldrick's since 2009, is looking at novel immunomodulatory or cellular therapeutic intervention to prevent relapse in children with leukemia undergoing transplantation who are at especially high risk. St. Baldrick's Scholar, Dr. Eleanor Chen, at University of Washington is testing new drugs that would prevent cancer relapse in children with rhabdomyosarcoma, one of the most common childhood cancers. St. Baldrick's grants are funding research to address relapse of many types of childhood cancer.
- Fusion Oncoproteins: When two or more genes originally coded for separate proteins are joined, the resulting gene has the potential to cause cancer. For example, alveolar rhabdomyosarcoma cells have a specific fusion protein that is a powerful cancer driver and does not yet have a pharmaceutical treatment. Dr. Michael Deel, a St. Baldrick's Fellow at Duke University Medical Center, is investigating an innovative way to target the gene that drives this disease by studying the interaction between a specific protein and the co-activator TAZ as a novel therapeutic target.
- Data Sharing: St. Baldrick's is funding the $2.5 million Treehouse Childhood Cancer Initiative led by UC Santa Cruz Genomics Institute, which brings the power of genomics and big-data analytics to bear on the challenge of finding effective treatments for children with cancer. The Treehouse Initiative is partnering with six clinical trials in the U.S. and Canada and will perform a massive comparison of each child's cancer data and cross-reference it with more than 10,000 tumors from previous genomics projects. The goal is to find new treatment options for every child with cancer, right when they need them, and current results reveal that this work is already saving lives.
- Survivorship: St. Baldrick's strongly supports survivorship research and has funded more than 90 grants in this area, including studies looking at long-term and late effects. Additionally, Eric Chow, M.D., Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle, recently shared on the work he is doing to help prevent heart disease in kids being treated with chemotherapy.
The St. Baldrick's Foundation believes #KidsAreGold and deserve a childhood free from cancer. This September – Childhood Cancer Awareness Month – help the St. Baldrick's Foundation continue to fund the best research, wherever it takes place. Make a donation today.
About St. Baldrick's Foundation
As the largest private funder of childhood cancer research grants, the St. Baldrick's Foundation believes that kids are special and deserve to be treated that way. St. Baldrick's funds are granted to some of the most brilliant childhood cancer research experts who are working to find cures and better treatments for all childhood cancers. Kids need treatments as unique as they are – and that starts with funding research just for them. Join us at StBaldricks.org to help support the best cancer treatments for kids.
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SOURCE St. Baldrick's Foundation