The young lives worth $11 mil­lion less than bat­tle over wind farms

The Sunday Telegraph (Sydney) - - NEWS - JANE HANSEN

ONE kills at least 35 kids a year, the other hasn’t killed any­body.

Yet in­ves­ti­gat­ing the ef­fects of wind farms on hu­mans re­ceived 24 times the fund­ing of re­search into chil­dren’s brain can­cer.

The Na­tional Health and Med­i­cal Re­search Coun­cil, Aus­tralia’s peak re­search fund­ing body, awarded just $534,102 to­wards find­ing a cure for pae­di­atric brain can­cer in 2016.

Yet, in 2015, $12.5 mil­lion was awarded to re­search­ing the ef­fects of wind farms on hu­mans. It was a fund­ing de­ci­sion mired in con­tro­versy, seen as part of the Coali­tion’s divi­sion and dis­taste for al­ter­na­tive en­ergy, and which found no ill ef­fects.

Other grants awarded by the NHMRC in­cluded $845,278 for re­search into the link be­tween omega-three sup­ple­ments and ag­gres­sive be­hav­iour; $1.89 mil­lion into com­bat­ing asthma in Viet­nam and $2.4 mil­lion to re­duce salt in­take us­ing food pol­icy in­ter­ven­tions.

The NHMRC’s $534,102 fund­ing to­wards pae­di­atric brain can­cer is the low­est amount since 2006 and less than a third of what was

granted in 2012 un­der La­bor.

Pae­di­atric brain can­cer is Aus­tralia’s dead­li­est dis­ease for chil­dren. One child dies ev­ery nine days and out­comes have not changed in three decades. Four out of five chil­dren di­ag­nosed will die.

Kylie New­ton, whose 10year-old daugh­ter Si­enna is a rare brain can­cer sur­vivor, said those who live are of­ten af­fected by the treat­ment.

In Si­enna’s case, 33 rounds of ra­dio­ther­apy could af­fect her learn­ing abil­ity.

“Si­enna is the one in five who sur­vive. The lack of re­search funds is a poor ef­fort, look at leukaemia where they did in­vest money and now nine out of 10 kids sur­vive,” Mrs New­ton said

The in­vest­ment into pae­di­atric brain can­cer re­search has dropped sig­nif­i­cantly each year since the Lib­er­als came to power, halv­ing be­tween 2012 and 2013 and fur­ther re­duc­ing to the cur­rent low rate.

Brain can­cer re­searcher As­so­ciate Pro­fes­sor Ker­rie McDon­ald said the amount granted in 2016 saw dozens of re­search projects knocked back. “It amounts to just one grant, it’s pa­thetic and I know among my 20 col­leagues that they at least put in two ap­pli­ca­tions for grants each last year so we know that 40 to 60 ap­pli­ca­tions got knocked back,” Prof McDon­ald said.

“The NHMRC tell us that the ap­pli­ca­tions weren’t com­pet­i­tive enough on the ba­sis of the sci­ence com­pared to more es­tab­lished can­cers.”

In stark con­trast, the $160 mil­lion breast screen­ing pro­gram was ex­panded to in­clude 70- to 74-year-olds thanks to an ex­tra $64.3 mil­lion grant in the same year.

“This makes me want to cry be­cause it is so dis­pro­por­tion­ate to the out­come for brain can­cer,” Prof McDon­ald said.

“It’s just not fair on the younger pop­u­la­tion that get brain can­cer. Not only is it the num­ber one killer of young peo­ple, it’s also the most ex­pen­sive can­cer to have.”

Pro­fes­sor David Walker, a Bris­bane-based neu­ro­sur­geon, wrote to the cur­rent Se­nate In­quiry into Rare Can­cers sug­gest­ing the gov­ern­ment “quar­an­tine” funds for brain can­cer re­search.

His group, which has been work­ing on im­munother­apy tri­als, has been knocked back sev­eral times for grants.

He works for free on their cur­rent re­search and said chang­ing the bru­tal death rate de­pended on fund­ing.

Kylie New­ton with her daugh­ter Si­enna New­ton, a rare brain can­cer sur­vivor. and Si­enna’s lit­tle sis­ter Ebony.

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