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.”