Fund­ing key to brain cancer cure for kids

Sunday Tasmanian - - News -

MONEY is the only thing stand­ing be­tween Aus­tralian sci­en­tists and a cure for the death sen­tence that is brain cancer in chil­dren.

“An an­nual bud­get of $5 mil­lion would rev­o­lu­tionise the ap­proach to this cancer,” on­col­o­gist David Ziegler said.

He said he and his team at Syd­ney’s Chil­dren’s Cancer In­sti­tute had been look­ing for a nee­dle in a haystack — a way to kill dif­fuse in­trin­sic pon­tine glioma, a brain-stem tu­mour that’s con­sid­ered to be 100 per cent fa­tal. They might have found it in a malaria drug.

All chil­dren di­ag­nosed with the tu­mour, which is in­op­er­a­ble given its po­si­tion in the brain stem, are given just six to nine months to live.

The team has grown dif­fuse in­trin­sic pon­tine glioma tu­mours in the lab and then ex­posed them to thou­sands of known drugs.

Nearly all of the known chemo­ther­apy drugs have failed on dif­fuse in­trin­sic pon­tine glioma but, in a break­through, anti-malar­ial drugs worked.

It was the most promis­ing break­through to date for the cancer, Pro­fes­sor Ziegler said.

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