Children on both sides of the continent now have access to the Zero Childhood Cancer personalised medicine program with a clinical trial site opening today in Perth. Following the national launch in September, scientists from thirteen leading Australian and international research institutes, including the Telethon Kids Institute, and doctors from all eight of Australia’s kids’ cancer centres are working together to identify and recommend new treatment options. These will be specifically tailored to suit the individual cancers of children with the most aggressive cancers whose chance of survival on standard treatments is less than 30%.
The Zero Childhood Cancer program – which is led by Children’s Cancer Institute and the Kids Cancer Centre at Sydney Children’s Hospital, Randwick – recognises that each child’s cancer is unique, so they respond differently to anti-cancer treatment. It’s hoped that detailed laboratory analysis of tumour samples will help identify the drugs most likely to kill each child’s specific cancer.
More than 250 Australian children, and an estimated 25 West Australian children, will be enrolled in the program over the next three years, bringing the most advanced diagnostic technologies close to home. Data from the program will be shared with all clinical and research partners around Australia, in Europe and USA.
The West Australian trial is being rolled out by Princess Margaret Hospital (PMH) for Children in partnership with the Telethon Kids Cancer Centre at Telethon Kids Institute.
Dr Nick Gottardo, Head of the Paediatric Oncology and Haematology Department at PMH and co-Head of Brain Tumour Research at Telethon Kids Institute, said the Zero Childhood Cancer program is a potential game-changer in how we treat high-risk cancer.
“This personalised medicine program is an exciting initiative that has the potential to revolutionise the way in which treatment decisions about childhood cancer are made.
“We’re looking forward to enrolling children in this clinical trial at our hospital, starting in coming months.”
“Despite the dramatic increase in childhood cancer survival rates over the last sixty years from virtually 0 to 80%, three children and adolescents die every week in Australia from cancer. It’s hoped this trial will increase survival rates for children with the highest risk of treatment failure or relapse and give their families hope.”
Professor Michelle Haber AM, Executive Director of Children’s Cancer Institute and Research Lead for Zero Childhood Cancer, said personalised treatment gives kids with the most aggressive cancers the best chance of surviving their disease because it is based on reliable scientific information, such as individual genetic mutations, unique to that child’s cancer.
The trial is now open in Sydney, Newcastle, Brisbane and Perth with other centres soon to follow.
Top image: Dr Nick Gottardo, Head of the Paediatric Oncology and Haematology Department at Princess Margaret Hospital and co-Head of Brain Tumour Research at Telethon Kids Institute in Perth, WA.