Two days after Neuroblastoma National Awareness Day on 2 February, the National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) awarded us a Program Grant of $6.6 million for neuroblastoma research.
New Federal Health Minister, The Hon Greg Hunt MP announced the NHMRC funding results last week – 110 projects awarded to 232 researchers totalling $125.3 million. The grants will help Australian scientists make future medical discoveries. Cancer research was a major focus.
Our $6.6M Program Grant will be used over the next five years to conduct substantial research to find more effective targeted treatments for neuroblastoma, and then take those treatments to clinical trials. It was the biggest grant announced in this round to UNSW-based researchers.
Although neuroblastoma isn’t well known in the community, it’s the most common solid tumour in early childhood and claims the lives of more children under 5 than any other cancer. It’s a complex disease.
Professor Michelle Haber AM is our Executive Director and head of our Experimental Therapeutics research program. She said the grant is especially good news for children with high-risk neuroblastoma, who have only a 40-50% chance of survival.
“We’re thrilled to receive this NHMRC Program Grant to develop targeted combination therapies, not just to cure more children with neuroblastoma, but to reduce toxic side-effects as well,” she said.
Top team search for future treatments
Professor Haber and fellow grant recipients Professor Glenn Marshall AM and Professor Murray Norris AM all have 25-year track records in neuroblastoma research. Professor Marshall is our Head of Translational Research and a Paediatric Oncologist at Kids Cancer Centre, Sydney Children’s Hospital, Randwick. As a clinician-researcher, he sees first-hand the need for new childhood cancer treatments.
“There has been little progress in neuroblastoma treatment for decades,” said Professor Marshall. “We’re confident our research will lead to several clinical trials, an important step in getting new therapies to the clinic where they’re desperately needed.”
This team is ideally positioned to take any newly discovered drug combinations to the next stage and already have some promising leads. Watch this space . . .
Read our media release.