Aus­tralian kids front­line in the ‘war on can­cer’


CAN­CER treat­ment for all suf­fer­ers, in­clud­ing chil­dren, could be rev­o­lu­tionised by a new clin­i­cal trial for Aus­tralia’s sick­est kids start­ing to­day.

The Zero Child­hood Can­cer ini­tia­tive will be­gin a na­tional trial with 400 ter­mi­nally ill kids from to­day pro­vid­ing per­son­alised can­cer treat­ment based on ge­netic screen­ing of in­di­vid­ual can­cer cells and tu­mours.

In an Aus­tralian first, sci­en­tists from 13 lead­ing Aus­tralian and in­ter­na­tional re­search in­sti­tutes and doc­tors from all eight of Aus­tralia’s kids’ can­cer cen­tres will work to­gether to iden­tify and rec­om­mend new treat­ment op­tions.

Chil­dren’s tu­mour sam­ples will un­dergo com­plex test­ing and anal­y­sis, and then be tested against hun­dreds of an­ti­cancer drugs to see which treat­ments will work best for each child’s unique can­cer.

Chil­dren with the most ag­gres­sive can­cers with a less than 30 per cent sur­vival rate will be cho­sen to take part in the na­tional trial.

It builds on the suc­cess­ful NSW pi­lot with 60 chil­dren that be­gan in 2015.

Re­searchers hope the $40 mil­lion ini­tia­tive will pave the way for a new way of fight­ing can­cer for not just chil­dren but all those who are struck down by the big C.

Three chil­dren and ado­les­cents die ev­ery week in Aus­tralia from can­cer, de­spite sur­vival rates over the last 60 years in­creas­ing dra­mat­i­cally.

Michelle Haber, ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor of the Chil­dren’s Can­cer In­sti­tute said this was the “most ex­cit­ing can­cer ini­tia­tive” she had ever known.

“There has never been any­thing on this scale in terms of col­lab­o­ra­tion and com­plex­ity and some­thing that will gen­uinely change the model of care for those at most se­ri­ous risk.”

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