CureSearch Teams up with Other Organizations to Fund International Research Consortium to Improve Lives of Children Suffering From Diffuse Intrinsic Pontine Glioma (DIPG)
CureSearch for Children's Cancer with the Team Julian Foundation, Accelerate Brain Cancer Cure (ABC2), The Cure Starts Now Foundation, and The Lyla Nsouli Foundation for Children's Brain Cancer Research are collaborating to fund groundbreaking research aimed at dramatically improving the lives of children suffering from Diffuse Intrinsic Pontine Glioma (DIPG) - one of the most devastating pediatric cancers. This funding is especially important to the Lyla Nsouli Foundation now, as Lyla lost her battle with DIPG earlier this winter.
Together, the four organizations have committed $229,000 to support the work of the DIPG Preclinical Consortium, the only international scientific group focused on preclinical development of targeted therapy combinations for DIPG. The goal of the research is to test and then move the most effective therapy forward to early phase clinical trials in the next 18 - 24 months.
Children with DIPG have a median survival of 9 months. A DIPG tumor grows amidst the nerves in the pons (middle) of the brain stem, and therefore cannot be surgically removed. Radiotherapy provides only temporary improvement of symptoms and chemotherapy has not been proven effective, making novel therapies desperately needed. "The scientific community has truly rallied around this cause. The mandate for a novel therapeutic approach was born in the Children's Oncology Group brain tumor committee under the bold leadership of Dr. Amar Gajjar. With the consortium co-leadership of clinical trialist Maryam Fouladi and the accountability to DIPG patients and their family, this program is moving unexpectedly quickly towards its goal," says Charles Keller, MD, Associate Professor and leader of the Pediatric Cancer Biology Program, Pape' Family Pediatric Research Institute in the Department of Pediatrics at Oregon Health & Science University.
"If we succeed, it will be because families that have donated their children's tumor gave us this opportunity. We are reminded every day that the cultures we study are parent-directed Legacy Gifts of the most selfless kind from children who current therapy could not save (the brain stem being vital to life; therefore, tumor donation can only occur at autopsy). What CureSearch, ABC2 , the Lyla Nsouli Foundation, and The Cure Starts Now have done to make our consortium possible, and so quickly, is unprecedented & and greatly appreciated," adds Dr. Keller.
The research project entitled, "Rapid Preclinical Development of a Targeted Therapy Combination for DIPG" was launched with initial support from The Cure Starts Now Foundation. Two additional European labs were added to the project with funding from The Lyla Nsouli Foundation for Children's Brain Cancer Research (based in London, UK).
The funding from CureSearch and ABC2 added a cutting-edge functional genomics component that will prioritize potential new drug targets. "We are proud to support this multi-national team of researchers in their efforts to rapidly develop effective drugs to treat children suffering from DIPG," said Max Wallace, CEO of ABC2. "By combining forces with our non-profit partners, ABC2 looks forward to leveraging the resources and expertise of all the organizations to improve the lives of children with cancer." John Lehr, president and CEO of CureSearch for Children's Cancer echoed Wallace's comments saying that "developing new drug targets is an integral step to providing children with DIPG a better prognosis. CureSearch is committed to funding research in rare cancer types so that one day, all children will be guaranteed a cure."