$1.3M from NSW Government to seek neuroblastoma treatments
February 15, 2017
Three grants totalling almost $1.3 million have been awarded to researchers from Children’s Cancer Institute to investigate new treatments for neuroblastoma.
The grants are part of an $11.6 million boost in funding from the NSW Government for researchers working on cures for some of the most aggressive and prevalent cancers affecting both children and adults.
Minister for Health and Medical Research Brad Hazzard said the funding for cancer research will include more than $4 million to investigate new treatments for cancers with poor survival rates such as pancreatic, lung, and ovarian cancers.
“While NSW has some of the best cancer outcomes in the world, there is still much to be done to improve cancer survival rates,” Mr Hazzard said. “These grants are a vital investment to help researchers discover treatment options for these cancers.”
The total funding includes 12 early career fellowships and six career development fellowships, as well as a translational program grant.
Three grants were received by young researchers from Children’s Cancer Institute to do further research into neuroblastoma, which accounts for 15% of all childhood cancer deaths.
Dr Dan Carter’s project is based on his discovery from single cell profiling that a small group of genes controlling cell division are substantially increased in the cells that initiate tumours. He will investigate if increased levels of the genes are needed for neuroblastoma to begin and then test if drugs inhibiting the genes could be a new therapy for high risk subtypes of neuroblastoma.
Dr Pei Yan Liu will define the role in promoting neuroblastoma tumour growth of a new long, non-protein coding RNA she recently discovered. The RNA is found in large amounts in high-risk neuroblastoma. Dr Liu will test new combination therapies to target the RNA.
Dr Orazio Vittorio will evaluate the potential of dextran-catechin as a future neuroblastoma treatment. This molecule is a chemically-modified natural compound that targets copper metabolism. Copper metabolism is an emerging target for anticancer drug design.
“Leukaemia and neuroblastoma are the most common cancers among Australian children and these diagnoses have an enormous impact on these young children and their families,” said Chief Cancer Officer and CEO of the Cancer Institute NSW, Professor David Currow.
“For those in high-risk groups, survival rates remain low. Investment into new treatments for these and other cancers with lower survival rates is crucial to reducing the impact of cancer among our community.”
Children’s Cancer Institute has a strong track record of research into childhood cancers like leukaemia and neuroblastoma with a goal to one day finding a cure.
About Children’s Cancer Institute
Originally founded by two fathers of children with cancer in 1976, Children’s Cancer Institute is the only independent medical research institute in Australia wholly dedicated to research into the causes, prevention and cure of childhood cancer. Forty years on, our vision remains unchanged – to save the lives of all children with cancer and to eliminate their suffering. The Institute has grown to now employ more than 220 researchers, operational staff and students, and has established a national and international reputation for scientific excellence.
Our focus is on translational research, and we have an integrated team of laboratory researchers and clinician scientists who work together in partnership to discover new treatments which can be progressed from the lab bench to the beds of children on wards in our hospitals as quickly as possible. These new treatments are specifically targeting childhood cancers, so we can develop safer and more effective drugs and drug combinations that will minimise side-effects and ultimately give children with cancer the best chance of a cure with the highest possible quality of life.
We are currently leading the establishment of the Zero Childhood Cancer national child cancer personalised medicine program for children with the most aggressive cancers, in partnership with the Sydney Children’s Hospitals Network. This program will revolutionise the way treatment decisions are made, with the aim of improving survivorship for those children at highest risk of treatment failure from their disease.