Research

Finding a cure and better ways to treat childhood cancer is of the utmost importance, and to this end we have been involved in funding research into childhood cancer since 1999.

Sydney Children’s Hospital Research Unit built totally with $1.5M in funds provided by Kids with Cancer

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New Clinical Trial for Paediatric Ependymoma, a common childhood brain cancer.

We are committed to finding a cure to help kids like Charlotte have a much brighter future.

Watch Charlotte’s story below.

Kids with Cancer Foundation, Australia is excited to be part of developing a world first, ground-breaking trial of a new treatment for a common childhood brain cancer called ependymoma. Paediatric ependymoma is the third most common brain tumour in children.

Treatment options for children, adolescents and young adults diagnosed with refractory or relapsed ependymoma are limited, and almost all will die of their disease. Novel therapies are urgently required for these patients. The mainstay of therapy has not changed in decades, currently, the only standard therapy for ependymoma is radiation therapy and surgery, and unfortunately this treatment is ineffective for at least 1 in 3 children. There are an estimated 5-10 patients with relapsed ependymoma presenting in Australia each year.

Researchers are now working on formulation of a drug that is more potent and less toxic for patients. The plan is to start the trial in Australia, and hopefully then expand to an international drug trial of children with ependymoma from around the world.

Kids with Cancer Foundation is providing the funding for a National Coordinator, Joanne Chuah, working alongside Associate Professor David Ziegler in Sydney, to commence study start-up.

Kids with Cancer currently have pledged funding for the first two years of the trial and are seeking support from the public to allow this vital and potentially life saving trial to continue. We believe in funding science to help kids with cancer.

In July 2021 we made our first payment to the Trial, $108,173.

If, like us, you’d like this vital research to continue and would like to donate to research into childhood brain cancer, click on the ‘Donate Now’ button below and just add ‘Ependymoma Research Trial’ to your donation comment.

Associate Professor David Ziegler

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A/Prof David Ziegler is a Senior Staff Specialist in the Kids Cancer Centre at Sydney Children’s Hospital and has expertise in neuro-oncology and early phase clinical trials. David was a Fulbright Scholar at the Dana Farber Cancer Institute, Harvard Medical School and Children’s Hospital Boston. He is a Conjoint Associate Professor at the University of New South Wales.

Our National Study Coordinator, Joanne Chuah for the ‘Ependymoma Research Trial’ .

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Joanne has been in the clinical research industry for over 10 years. During this time, Joanne had the responsibility of not only coordinating multiple international clinical trials at a major paediatric cancer centre, but also becoming the national project manager and liaison for an international clinical trial. The type of cancer trials Joanne worked on include (but not limited to) leukaemia and bone marrow transplant.

Given how valuable clinical trials are in providing children the best chance of beating cancer, I am very excited to join the Sydney Children’s Hospital’s KOALA team as a National Study Coordinator. This is my opportunity to contribute to the development and management of new early phase clinical trials. It is a privilege to work alongside researchers, who are dedicated to improve the outcome of childhood cancers, by bringing together scientifically safe and effective medicine to children across Australia and New Zealand.

Gene Therapy Dr Geoff McCowage received the 2015 Premier's Award for Outstanding Cancer Research

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We congratulate Dr McCowage on his wonderful achievements.

As a start-up in 1999 Kids with Cancer Foundation provided $150,000 to help start a Gene Therapy project supporting the work of Dr McCowage and Peter Gunning at The Children’s Hospital at Westmead.

Dr McCowage has been a paediatric oncologist at the Sydney Children’s Hospital Network (SCHN) Westmead since 1996. He has a particular clinical interest in neuro-oncology and sarcomas of bone and soft tissue. His current research involves gene transfer with haematopoietic stem cells, focusing on the development of clinical gene therapy trials. Dr McCowage is SCHN Westmead’s Principal Investigator for clinical trials of the international Children’s Oncology Group, and is also involved in other clinical trials sponsored by industry and other consortia.

“Gene Therapy provides hope as a viable and innovative approach to the treatment of paediatric brain tumours and alleviation of treatment side effects. The Children’s Cancer Gene Therapy team started a Phase I study in June 2012 for the treatment of paediatric brain tumours using a combined gene therapy/pharmacological approach. The approach involves gene modification of haematopoietic stem cells, so that the cells produce a DNA repair protein and become resistant to the harmful effects of methylating chemotherapy. This trial is a world-first study demonstrating the safety and feasibility of infusing gene-modified haematopoietic stem cells in children.”

(Kids with Cancer provided $500,000 in 2003 to help construct the ‘Australian Stem Cell Facility’/’Sydney Cord and Marrow Transplant Facility’, for The Kids Cancer Centre at Sydney Children’s Hospital).

1. Gene Therapy Project – Protection of bone marrow stem cells from chemotherapy toxicity

Most of the side effects of cancer chemotherapy occur because the chemotherapy drugs damage the bone marrow. In this project we aim to protect the bone marrow using a gene therapy approach. We are developing techniques to introduce into the bone marrow stem cells a gene named methylguanine methyl transferase. The modified stem cells will then create a chemical, which protects them from the chemotherapy drugs. The modified stem cells would then be given back to the patient as a bone marrow transplant, and hopefully subsequent chemotherapy would have less toxicity since the bone marrow would be protected from the damage which usually occurs. So far we have developed a special non-toxic virus, called a vector, which can carry the gene into the stem cells. We have developed techniques for purifying stem cells from bone marrow and strategies for introducing the virus to the stem cells. We aim now to develop these techniques further to the point of conducting a clinical trial. This is a new and rapidly developing area of translational research – there are very few gene therapy protocols being trialed in Australia – and we hope that by developing this protocol in collaboration with the Gene Therapy Research Unit at The Children’s Hospital, that we will be successful in initiating a trial at this hospital. This is a long-term and ambitious project which involves a full-time research scientist under the direction of Dr Geoffrey McCowage and Professor Peter Gunning.

2. Leukemia Project – The role of the novel D52 gene family in human cancer

 Dr Jennifer Byrne, a Research Group Leader within the ORU, has identified a new family of genes, called the D52 family, which are involved in human cancer. Current evidence suggests that these genes may play roles in controlling cell multiplication. Members of this family can be active in leukemia cells, and we wish to examine whether their activity is associated with leukemia. Such associations could indicate that these genes might find future use in leukemia diagnosis. We are also investigating, in a parallel project within the laboratory; whether inducing too much D52 gene activity in a particular tissue can result in this tissue developing cancer. It is envisaged that this project would be of l-year duration and require the expertise of a full-time Clinical Research Fellow

Kids with Cancer Foundation’s (KWCF) impact on our Hospital (Sydney Children’s) has been a significant one throughout the life of the partnership, contributing in excess of $7.7Million over 15 years in support of our Kids Cancer Centre.

Research has been a key feature of this support, with over $2.8milllion supporting vital research projects within our Kids Cancer Centre, helping to find new treatments and cures for childhood cancer which has helped us to work towards our goal of 100 survival for all children with cancer.

The funding from KWCF provides the Cancer Centre with the opportunity to employ much needed research staff essential for the management and coordination of a wide range of clinical trials. Access to such clinical trials allows our patients to receive state of the art medical treatment and provide access to innovative and effective new treatment regimes.

In order to facilitate this access to such a broad range of clinical trials for children with cancer, the Clinical Trials Team collaborates with several national and international collaborative trial groups and pharmaceutical companies. Two Clinical Research Associates (CRAs), whose salaries are supported by the KWCF funding, coordinate and manage the clinical trials as part of our Clinical Research Program.

1999 we funded: 

  • Research Psychologist $50,000.00.

  • Clinical Research Associate $21,000.00.

2000: 

  • Clinical Research Nurse $73,343.00.

  • Research Psychologist $50,000.00.

2001: 

  • $78,151.00. Clinical Research Nurse $63,777.00

  • Research Psychologist $62,441.00

  • Coordinator of late effects of cancer therapy. $62,592.00

2002:

  • Clinical Research Nurse $73,343.00

2003: 

  • Clinical Research Nurse

2004: 

  • Clinical Research Nurse

2005: 

  • Behavioural Sciences Researcher $90,000.00

2006: 

  • Behavioural Sciences Researcher $81,900.00

  • Data Manager $47,000.00

2007:

  • Behavioural Sciences Researcher $81,900.00

  • Data Manager $47,570.00

2008: 

  • ‘Research Assistant for the clinical trials unit to test new treatment for children with incurable cancer  $110,000

  • Behavioural Sciences Researcher (part time) $26,160.00, Senior Researcher $46,870, Research Assistant $40,330 and PhD Scholarship $28,340.00 for the ‘Kids with Cancer Foundation Behavioural Sciences Program’

2009: 

  • Research Assistant for the clinical trials unit to test new treatment for children with incurable cancer  $110,000

  • Kids with Cancer Foundation Behavioural Sciences Program: Behavioural Sciences Researcher (part time) Senior Researcher, Research Assistant and PhD Scholarship $141,700.00

2010: 

  • ‘Research Assistant for the ‘Help Cure Incurable Cancers Clinical Trials Unit’ to test new treatment for children with incurable cancer  $110,000

  • ‘Kids with Cancer Foundation Behavioural Sciences Research Program’: Behavioural Sciences Researcher (part time) Senior Researcher, Research Assistant and PhD Scholarship $131,207.00

2011: 

  • $300,000 as the initial payment of $1.5million to fund a better Cancer Research Centre providing an increase in clinical, research staff and fellows from 25 to 45 people

  • Part time Psychologist (CCC&BD) $50,000

  • *Part time Psychologist, Long-Term Follow-Up Clinic for survivors of childhood cancer $60,000

  • Kids with Cancer Foundation Behavioural Sciences Research Program’: Behavioural Sciences Researcher (part time) Senior Researcher, Research Assistant and PhD Scholarship $120,372.00

  • Research Assistants for the ‘Help Cure Incurable Cancers Clinical Trials Unit’ to test new treatment for children with incurable cancer, two positions  $180,000

2012: 

  • $300,000 as the second payment of $1.5million to fund the ‘Children’s Cancer Research Centre’ providing an increase in clinical, research staff and fellows from 25 to 45 people

  • Kids with Cancer Foundation Behavioural Sciences Research Program’: Behavioural Sciences Researcher (part time) Senior Researcher, Research Assistant and PhD Scholarship $120,372.00

  • Research Assistants for the ‘Help Cure Incurable Cancers Clinical Trials Unit’ to test new treatment for children with incurable cancer, two positions  $142,730

2013: 

  • $300,000 as the third payment of $1.5million to fund the ‘Children’s Cancer Research Centre providing an increase in clinical, research staff and fellows from 25 to 45 people

  • $32,000 Part time Psychologist (CCC&BD)

  • $120,372.00 Kids with Cancer Foundation Behavioural Sciences Research Program’: Behavioural Sciences Researcher (part time) Senior Researcher, Research Assistant and PhD Scholarship

  • $142,730 Research Assistants for the ‘Help Cure Incurable Cancers Clinical Trials Unit’ to test new treatment for children with incurable cancer, two positions.

2014:

  • $600,000 as the final payment of $1.5million to fund the ‘Children’s Cancer Research Centre’ providing an increase in clinical, research staff and fellows from 25 to 45 people

  • $17,703 Long Term Follow Up Program, staffing.

  • $120,370.35 Kids with Cancer Foundation Behavioural Sciences Research Program’: Part time Psychologist, 2 Behavioural Sciences Researchers and a Statistician Researcher

  • $142,730 Research Assistants for the ‘Help Cure Incurable Cancers Clinical Trials Unit’ to test new treatment for children with incurable cancer, two positions.

Since 1998 (our first year) we have also funded some similar research projects at The Children’s Hospital at Westmead.

1998:

  • Data Manager $30,000.00

1999: 

  • Data Manager $30,000.00,

  • Research Assistant (Gene Therapy) $63,000.00

  • Research Assistant (Unit D52 Gene Clinical) $37,500.00

  • over $50,000 for project and laboratory consumables as well as work station and software.

2000: 

  • The Long Term Survivor Clinic $28,750.00.

  •  Clinical Research Associate-Data Manager $46,680.00.

2004 – 2009: 

  • Clinical Research Associate $44,962.00, $51,689.00, $55,187.00, $57,394.00, $57,394.00 & $83,217.00

2011: 

  • Clinical Research Associate $86,049

Science is the cure

Australian Stem Cell Facility'/'Sydney Cord and Marrow Transplant Facility

We provided $500,000 in 2003 to help with this construction for the Kids Cancer Centre at Sydney Children’s Hospital.

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