Children’s Cancer Institute and Sydney Children’s Hospital, Randwick announce ground breaking clinical trial for childhood cancer in Australia
September 2, 2014
New trial offers exciting new treatment approach for aggressive relapsed neuroblastoma
Children’s Cancer Institute and Sydney Children’s Hospital, Randwick have today announced a
major, new international clinical trial designed to help combat neuroblastoma – the most
common solid tumour to affect infants and young children today.
Coinciding with International Childhood Cancer Awareness Month in September, the clinical
trial offers an exciting new treatment for children diagnosed with relapsed neuroblastoma. The
trial uses an existing small molecule drug, called Difluoromethylornithine (DFMO), previously used for treating African Sleeping Sickness.
Children’s Cancer Institute’s research has shown that DFMO, when used in combination with
modern chemotherapy, attacks neuroblastoma much more effectively than chemotherapy drugs alone.
The clinical trial, led by Dr David Ziegler, Paediatric Oncologist for the Kids Cancer Centre at Sydney Children’s Hospital, Randwick and Group Leader of Targeted Therapies Program at Children’s Cancer Institute, is an international trial being run across 14 hospitals in North America.
As one of Australia’s leading specialist medical centres for children, Sydney Children’s Hospital, part of The Sydney Children’s Hospitals Network, is the only site in the country to host the trial.
Dr David Ziegler said “The drug DFMO essentially makes the current chemotherapies more effective in killing neuroblastoma cells. To initiate this trial we developed a new formulation of DFMO that can be given to children as a syrup. We hope that this will be a new way forward for children diagnosed with high-risk neuroblastoma.”
Professor Michelle Haber AM, Executive Director, Children’s Cancer Institute said: “Currently,a child with high-risk neuroblastoma who relapses after initial treatment is considered incurable. Children’s Cancer Institute, along with our partner Sydney Children’s Hospital, is determined to put an end to this devastating disease. If the DFMO clinical trial proves successful it could fundamentally change the way we approach neuroblastoma treatment.
“Neuroblastoma accounts for 15 per cent of all paediatric cancer deaths in Australia and high-risk neuroblastoma has a survival rate of just 1 in 2. This is why it’s so critical that we progress
our discoveries into actual treatments for kids as quickly as possible.”
The trial is supported by Australian Lions Childhood Cancer Research Foundation, The Kids’ Cancer Project, Cancer Institute NSW and the National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC), and internationally by New Approaches to Neuroblastoma Therapy (NANT).
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.