Improving the future for children with cancer in NSW will be a key focus of new funding from the Cancer Institute NSW, announced today by Minister for Health and Medical Research, Brad Hazzard.
Totalling $11.6 million, the grants are being delivered across the state as Early Career Fellowships, Career Development Fellowships and a Translational Program Grant.
Three of those being awarded are investigating new treatments for neuroblastoma, based at Children’s Cancer Institute at the University of NSW.
Mr Hazzard says these grants will be a vital investment to help researchers discover treatment options for cancers.
What is neuroblastoma?
Neuroblastoma is a cancer occurring most commonly in children under five – it accounts for one in six childhood cancer deaths.
Dr Daniel Carter and Dr Pei Yan Liu at Children's Cancer Institute will test drugs targeting certain genes present in high-risk neuroblastomas, which have been found to make them resistant to treatment.
In a separate study, Dr Orazio Vittorio at Children's Cancer Institute will work on combining catachin, an antioxidant found in green tea, with a sugar based compound to target the progression and aggressiveness of neuroblastoma.
This could mean life-saving treatment options for children who previously would not have had them.
An additional $1.3 million is going to three researchers working on treatments for leukaemia – two of these targeting acute myeloid leukaemia, which has a five-year survival rate of 24 per cent.
Chief Cancer Officer and CEO of the Cancer Institute NSW, Professor David Currow says diagnoses of leukaemia and neuroblastoma have an enormous impact on these young children and their families.
“Investment into new treatments for these and other cancers with lower survival rates is crucial to reducing the impact of cancer among our community,” Professor Currow says.
While overall survival for neuroblastoma is relatively high, around 25 per cent of those diagnosed are classified as high-risk cases. These children only have a 40-50 per cent chance of survival.
Addressing poor survival rates
Minister for Health and Medical Research, Brad Hazzard says the funding will include more than $4 million to investigate new treatments for cancers with poor survival rates such as pancreatic, lung, and ovarian cancers.
“While NSW has some of the best cancer outcomes in the world, there is still much to be done to improve cancer survival rates,” Mr Hazzard says.
Fellowships have also been awarded to researchers working on cures for colorectal cancer and metastatic melanoma.
In addition to the 18 fellowships awarded, Professor Roger Reddell has received a translational program grant of $3.75 million for his work at the ACRF International Centre for the Proteome of Human Cancer (ProCan™), part of the Cancer Moonshot Initiative from 47th Vice President of the United States, Joe Biden.
This grant will support research to improve the speed, accuracy and thoroughness of cancer diagnosis and treatment decision-making.