Children’s Cancer Institute and The Cure Starts Now join forces against a devastating killer
March 27, 2015
Townsville based cancer research foundation, The Cure Starts Now (Australia), has granted Children’s Cancer Institute another $100,000 to expand research in to Diffuse Intrinsic Pontine Glioma (DIPG) – the most aggressive and deadly of all childhood cancers.
The Cure Starts Now is a dedicated group of parents whose sole focus is to raise funds for life saving research into this terminal childhood cancer; parents like Amanda Griffin whose daughter Erin was diagnosed with DIPG when she was 11 years old and tragically passed away in September 2014, at the age of 14.
Even while she was battling with her cancer and the side effects of aggressive treatments, Erin was determined to raise the profile of this devastating disease so that other children in the future would not have to suffer as she did.
Erin’s engaging personality and sheer courage in the face of her terminal disease won the hearts and minds of all who became followers of her journey online and through media. Erin’s final gift was to donate the tumour that took her life to one of Children’s Cancer Institute’s world-leading research projects, in the hope that the knowledge gained from studying it might ultimately spare the lives and suffering of other children.
“When Erin was diagnosed, I had no idea kids got brain cancer, or that so many children died from cancer,” says Amanda, who will visit the Institute on Friday 27th March to present the cheque from The Cure Starts Now.
“Erin’s contribution to the world would have been amazing. Her mission was to spread international awareness of childhood cancer and I’m determined to continue doing so in her honour.”
DIPG is described as terminal on diagnosis, which means there is no cure, no effective treatment and no hope of survival. Surgery is impossible, and most children succumb to the disease within one year. Over the last 30 years, almost nothing has changed for DIPG patients in terms of treatment or outcome.
Research being undertaken by Children’s Cancer Institute could transform the way children with DIPG are treated and ultimately result in a cure. In a world-first, the Institute’s Dr David Ziegler has devised a plan to test 10,000 drugs for their effectiveness on DIPG tumour tissue samples to discover which might inhibit DIPG cell growth. His team has already tested more than 3,500 drugs and are working on a handful that appear to be extremely effective.
“I believe we can do for DIPG what has already been done for leukaemia,” says Dr David Ziegler, Paediatric Oncologist for the Kids’ Cancer Centre at Sydney Children’s Hospital, Randwick and Group Leader of Children’s Cancer Institute’s Targeted Therapies program.
“Once, the survival rate for leukaemia was zero. Today, it’s 85%. With enough funding, we can do the same for DIPG – which is why this generous contribution from the Cure Starts Now is so much appreciated.”
The contribution to Children’s Cancer Institute is part of a broader initiative by The Cure Starts Now and its partners within the DIPG Collaborative, for which $2.5M is being delivered in 2015 to esteemed DIPG research institutions across the globe.
“The time to act is now!” pleads Ren Pedersen, Director of The Cure Starts Now. “The wider Australian public must help us climb medicine’s Mount Everest and support DIPG research.”
The Cure Starts Now (Australia), in association with the international DIPG Collaborative, is empowering researchers both in our country and across the globe with funds to target the toughest paediatric brain tumours. Too often, we tend to fight cancer as individual diseases, ignoring potential commonalities. Leaders of international research institutions are now enthusiastically embracing universal cure strategies advocated by the DIPG Collaborative and The Cure Starts Now.
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.