Ma­jor trial to com­bat can­cer in chil­dren

Townsville Bulletin - - NATION - LANAI SCARR

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, 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 chil­dren’s 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 a new way of fight­ing can­cer

Three chil­dren and ado­les­cents die ev­ery week in Aus­tralia from can­cer.

Michelle Haber, ex­ec­u­tive Di­rec­tor of the Chil­dren’s Can­cer In­sti­tute and re­search lead on the trial, 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,” Pro­fes­sor Haber said.

Health Min­is­ter Greg Hunt said the Fed­eral Gov­ern­ment was pro­vid­ing $ 20m to sup­port the ini­tia­tive. The Lady Ci­lento Chil­dren’s Hospi­tal and The Univer­sity of Queens­land Dia­mantina In­sti­tute are tak­ing part in the ini­tia­tive.

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