The NSW government has just invested an additional $1 million in the Zero Childhood Cancer program, building on the $5.63 million awarded to the program in 2015. Zero Childhood Cancer, led by Children’s Cancer Institute and The Kids Cancer Centre at Sydney Children’s Hospital, Randwick, part of The Sydney Children’s Hospitals Network, offers Australia’s first ever personalised medicine program for children with high-risk or relapsed cancer.
The additional money will support the launch of a new immunotherapy trial called INFORM 2, for children with brain cancer. When announcing the funding, Health Minister Mr Hazzard said,
“Sadly, cancer kills more children than any other disease. Every child death is a tragedy and is absolutely devastating for the entire family.”
“We want to do all we can to help these children beat brain cancer and live longer.”
“This is one of the most exciting childhood cancer research initiatives in Australia.”
What is cancer immunotherapy?
Cancer immunotherapy is a type of cancer treatment that uses the body’s own defences – the immune system – to help fight cancer.
The immune system protects us from foreign organisms like germs. When a germ enters our body, the immune system recognises it, attacks it and eliminates it. The immune system can also detect and destroy any of our own cells that become abnormal, thus preventing cancer from occurring.
However, cancer cells can find ways to avoid the immune system. Sometimes the immune response just isn’t strong enough to eliminate every cancer cell. At other times, cancer cells manipulate the immune system, shutting down the attack against them.
There are different types of cancer immunotherapy, all aimed at harnessing the power of the immune system. This could be dialling up a weak immune response. Or stopping cancer cells from manipulating the immune system, making them visible, and vulnerable, again.
Find out more about cancer immunotherapy.
Top image: Our researchers test novel cancer treatments such as immunotherapy