$20M from Federal Government for Personalised Medicine Program Zero Childhood Cancer
November 3, 2016
The Prime Minister presented a cheque today for $20M to support Australia’s single-biggest initiative in childhood cancer research, the Zero Childhood Cancer national child cancer personalised medicine program.
The cheque was presented at a ceremony at Sydney Children’s Hospital, Randwick, which is jointly leading the personalised medicine Program with Children’s Cancer Institute.
“The Zero Childhood Cancer program is a wonderful initiative. It is a great national priority. It is designed to ensure that we deliver precisely the right drug in the right way, focused on the particular tumour of the particular child. In other words, highly targeted therapy that does less damage to other organs,” said the Prime Minister.
“This is a network. It is a new level of collaboration across the country and indeed across the world. It means better collecting and sharing of the vital information about the types of tumours, children’s response to treatments and the outcomes of the treatment. And most importantly of all, of course, it means new hope to children, their families, to quicker diagnosis, speedier treatment and better outcomes.”
Professor Glenn Marshall, Clinical Lead of Zero Childhood Cancer, is Head of Translational Research at Children’s Cancer Institute and Paediatric Oncologist, Kids Cancer Centre, Sydney Children’s Hospital, Randwick. He said that the funding represents a significant boost to personalising treatment for the worst kinds of childhood cancer.
“We are delighted to receive this substantial funding from the Prime Minister today.
“The Program is ambitious and complex, and tailor-made treatment is expensive. This Federal Government funding will help us take a giant step forward by scaling up of the program to a national level. It will help fund essential research infrastructure that will allow an entirely new level of profiling, analysis and therapeutic targeting of individuals’ disease, including immunological studies, protein analyses and gene sequencing.
“The funding is critical to deliver the benefits from Zero Childhood Cancer for all children throughout the country with the highest-risk cancers. It shows that the people of Australia are backing this visionary program,” he said.
This year, the Program is in pilot stage – developing laboratory procedures, fine-tuning technologies and expertise, and establishing technical and operational pipelines. Next year, a national clinical trial will commence.
Zero Childhood Cancer, an initiative of Children’s Cancer Institute and the Kids Cancer Centre at Sydney Children’s Hospital, Randwick, involves the detailed laboratory analysis of each child’s unique cancer cells, to help identify the drugs most likely to kill their specific cancer. Scientists and doctors will then work collaboratively to identify and deliver the most effective treatment plan, specifically tailored to suit each child’s individual disease.
Despite the dramatic increase in childhood cancer survival rates over the last sixty years, from virtually 0% to 80%, nearly three Australian children and adolescents still die each week of cancer and 950 children and adolescents in Australia are diagnosed with cancer each year. Seventy percent of childhood cancer survivors experience significant side effects from their treatment which may be life-long.
Professor Tracey O’Brien, Director of the Kids Cancer Centre at Sydney Children’s Hospital, Randwick, says the network of over 15 clinical and research partners across Australia will be significantly enhanced by the funding received today.
“This personalised medicine initiative is the epitome of research translated into clinical practice. It is a model that brings tomorrow’s care to the bedside today.
“I am proud to support many of the families here in their battle against childhood cancer. This Program holds out hope both to them and the families that come after them” she said.
Professor Marshall said Zero Childhood Cancer has had wonderful support from partners like the Cancer Therapeutics CRC and the NSW Government, who came on board early.
“We couldn’t run this Program without the support of partners including Sydney Children’s Hospital Foundation, Australian Cancer Research Foundation, Cure Brain Cancer Foundation, The Kid’s Cancer Project, the Rory Williams Fund, Kids Cancer Alliance, UNSW, the Garvan Institute of Medical Research, Lions Club International Foundation, the Australian Lions Childhood Cancer Research Foundation and the Robert Connor Dawes Foundation.
“This support means we have already made great progress but this is an ambitious, complex program with significant costs,” he said.
The Zero Childhood Cancer clinical trial will run nationally from 2017-2020, with the aim to have shown that a personalised medicine approach is feasible for managing the treatment of children with cancer, and be able to offer the platform as a national personalised medicine program for all Australian children with high risk cancer from 2020.
About Zero Childhood Cancer
The Zero Childhood Cancer Program is a national initiative of Children’s Cancer Institute and The Sydney Children’s Hospitals Network. The Program is led by scientists and clinicians from Children’s Cancer Institute and Sydney Children’s Hospital, Randwick and is one of the most exciting childhood cancer research initiatives ever undertaken in Australia, to tackle the most serious cases of infant, childhood and adolescent cancer.
Participating hospitals and research centres include:
- NSW – Children’s Cancer Institute
- NSW – Sydney Children’s Hospital, Randwick
- NSW – The Children’s Hospital at Westmead
- NSW – John Hunter Children’s Hospital
- NSW – Kids Research Institute, Westmead
- NSW – Garvan Institute of Medical Research
- QLD – Lady Cilento Children’s Hospital
- QLD – The University of Queensland Diamantina Institute
- SA – Women’s and Children’s Hospital
- SA – South Australian Health and Medical Research Institute
- VIC – Royal Children’s Hospital, Melbourne
- VIC – Peter MacCallum Cancer Institute
- VIC – Murdoch Childrens Research Institute
- WA – Princess Margaret Hospital for Children, Perth
- WA – Telethon Kids Cancer Centre, Telethon Kids Institute
More at www.zerochildhoodcancer.org.au
About Children’s Cancer Institute
Children’s Cancer Institute is the only independent medical research organisation in Australia dedicated 100% to childhood cancer research, existing solely to cure childhood cancer and improve the quality of life for survivors. The Institute was originally known as The Children’s Leukaemia and Cancer Foundation and was established in May 1976 by a dedicated group of parents and doctors of children with cancer. Children’s Cancer Institute opened its own research laboratories in 1984 and has since grown to employ nearly 200 staff and students, establishing a national and international reputation for scientific excellence.
Children’s Cancer Institute relies on grants and community support to complete our work. Every dollar we receive from government and granting bodies to support direct research costs must be matched with a dollar raised by the community through partnerships, donations and fundraising to cover the indirect costs of our work. We are constantly under pressure to raise more funds as our research portfolio expands. Without dedicated funding and the help of our supporters – which include community fundraisers, corporate partners, individual donors, supporters and volunteers – we’re unable to complete the vital research we know will uncover a cure for childhood cancer.
More at ccia.org.au
About Sydney Children’s Hospital, Randwick
Each year, Sydney Children’s Hospital, Randwick cares for more than 61,500 seriously ill and injured children from across NSW, Australia and beyond in a family-centred, multidisciplinary, expert environment. Sydney Children’s Hospital, Randwick is one the country’s leading centres in paediatric clinical and research excellence and is part of The Sydney Children’s Hospitals Network, the largest network of hospitals and services for children in Australia. More at www.schn.health.nsw.gov.au
About the Kids Cancer Centre, Sydney Children’s Hospital, Randwick
The Kids Cancer Centre (KCC) at Sydney Children’s Hospital, Randwick has been treating children with cancer and blood diseases in NSW, Australia and the Asia-Pacific region for nearly 50 years. Almost two thirds of children treated for cancer or leukaemia at the Centre are enrolled on clinical trials, in a unique model where research and clinical care are one, aimed at ensuring the best possible care for children and their families. During that time the survival rates for children with cancer have gone from 10 per cent to nearly 80 per cent. Clinical and research staff from the Centre have made major international and national contributions to the expansion of knowledge in the area: from important discoveries around bone marrow transplantation, chemotherapy for relapsed solid tumours and leukaemia, to the invention of novel anti-cancer drug combinations and minimal residual disease (MRD) testing in ALL. Centre staff have been leaders in devising new methods of outreach and home nursing, and in developing modern approaches to the bereaved family. These achievements have been founded on academic excellence and clinical expertise. In the past five years alone, Centre staff have published over 100 papers in peer-reviewed medical and scientific journals, and have been awarded more than $40 million in competitive grant funding. Over the past 20 years a total of eight clinical staff have received Order of Australia honours for their work.
Zero Childhood Cancer Program Partners
About Sydney Children’s Hospital Foundation
Sydney Children’s Hospital Foundation is the principal fundraising body for Sydney Children’s Hospital, Randwick. The Foundation contributes significant financial support across four key pillars: medical, nursing and allied health specialists, high-tech equipment, groundbreaking medical research and capital works (ward refurbishments and new buildings). We also fund Child Life and Music Therapy activities, special outdoor spaces such as the Happy Garden and our innovative Art Program workshops and exhibitions, helping to create a positive, vibrant and healing environment for children and families. Our vision is to be a catalyst to inspiring better outcomes for sick and critically-ill children. For more information visit www.schf.org.au
The Australian Cancer Research Foundation (ACRF) is a charity dedicated funding the best cancer research initiatives across Australia that focus on effective prevention, detection and treatment. ACRF funds are used to purchase essential equipment and provide state-of-the-art technologies that speed up the discovery process – ultimately working to save lives by saving time.
About Cure Brain Cancer Foundation
Cure Brain Cancer is the largest dedicated funder of brain cancer research in Australia. Their mission is to increase five-year survival from the current 20% to 50% by 2023. Partnering with the research community, they are steering the national agenda – and influencing the global agenda – for brain cancer research.
About The Kids’ Cancer Project
The Kids’ Cancer Project is a leading Australian charity dedicated to funding medical research to find a cure for children’s cancer. Col Reynolds founded the independent charity in 1993 when he learned research was the only way to help end the pain and suffering children and their family’s experience. Today the charity is one of the largest funders of childhood cancer research in Australia and works together with families, the community, government, corporate, researchers and clinicians to help find the cure.
Cancer Therapeutics CRC (CTx) is in the business of finding cures for cancer. They are a collaborative partnership of leading Research Institutes, Universities and biotechnology companies that is solely focussed on translating Australia’s innovative research discoveries into new cancer drugs ready for clinical development. The company’s research and development capabilities span the full range of technologies and expertise required to discover novel small molecule cancer drugs and develop them to the clinical candidate stage.
About NSW Health
For more information visit, www.health.nsw.gov.au
About UNSW Australia
UNSW (The University of New South Wales) is one of Australia’s leading research and teaching universities. For more information visit, www.unsw.edu.au
About Garvan Institute of Medical Research
The Garvan Institute of Medical Research has pioneered insights into some of the most widespread diseases affecting our community today. Garvan’s mission is to make significant contributions to medical research that will change the directions of science and medicine and have major impacts on human health. Garvan strives to enhance and develop research programs that combine fundamental science with strong clinical interactions. http://www.garvan.org.au/
About Lions Clubs of Australia and childhood cancer
The Lions Clubs of Australia have a decades-long history in supporting research in childhood cancer. In 2009, the Clubs formed the Australian Lions Children’s Cancer Research Foundation (ALCCRF) to focus the efforts of Lions Australia’s 1400 clubs into one foundation with the vision of achieving 100% survival for kids with cancer. ALCCRF has developed an ethos of ‘donors without borders’ – an approach to bringing together diverse individuals, institutions and states to unite behind a common goal of eliminating deaths from childhood cancer.
About Robert Connor Dawes Foundation
Inspired by a big heart and brain, the Robert Connor Dawes Foundation was created in June 2013 in the memory of Robert Connor Dawes. The Foundation is battling brain tumours and supporting brain matters in the areas of research, care and development. More at http://rcdfoundation.org/
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.