Patients are a virtue
RAELENE Endersby takes cancer patients and their families on her research journey at the Telethon Kids Institute and says she would not succeed without them.
The co-head of the Brain Tumour Research Program said a cancer diagnosis was traumatic for families but their willingness to donate the tumours to her research team would save lives in the future.
“Our work couldn’t go ahead without it,” Dr Endersby said.
“Patients in the future won’t have to walk the same road.”
Dr Endersby aims to become a Brainchild Fellow with help from The Adventurers who are hosting The Brainchild Ball this month.
RAELENE Endersby doesn’t want the Brain Tumour Research Program that she spearheaded to exist in decades to come.
That’s because the co-head of the program believes that she, along with Nick Gottardo and their team of researchers, can eradicate brain cancer in children.
“We think we can do it because it’s been done in paediatric leukaemia,” Dr Endersby said.
“It (leukaemia) used to be a lethal disease with no cure and now the survival rate is above 97 per cent.
“With brain tumours, we’re further behind because they’re not as common, but in a couple of decades we’ll have the same success stories (as leukaemia).”
With the help of funding from The Adventurers, the two doctors, who hail from Perth but met while working together at the St Jude Children’s Research Hospital in Memphis, have been able to maintain a strong and consistent research team at the Telethon Kids Institute in Subiaco, where their program is based.
Dr Endersby said money raised by The Adventurers provided security for the researchers, so the program retained knowledge.
“It means we can have big ideas, even if it will take five years to get an outcome,” she said.
The team has already made inroads, developing a new drug that is part of a clinical trial to treat children diagnosed with medulloblastoma, which is the most common malignant brain tumour in children.
“There’s evidence that it works and it’s safe for children and doesn’t interfere with other treatments,” Dr Endersby said.
“It will work with standard treatments and makes them more effective.
“We can’t get rid of chemotherapy just yet, but we can reduce the side-effects.”
Children like Conor Colgan are the only motivation the research team needs to continue with its efforts.
Conor, who was diagnosed with a high grade astrocytoma in 2014 when he was five, will be honoured at this year’s Brainchild Ball on Saturday, July 22 at Crown Perth, where guests will be taken on a Japanese experience with a three-course dinner inspired by Nobu.
The Adventurers aim to raise $200,000 that will help Dr Endersby become a Brainchild Fellow.
For tickets, visit www.brainchildballwa.com.au.
Dr Raelene Endersby, co-head of the Brain Tumour Research Program at the Telethon Kids Institute.
Conor Colgan with his father, Nathan.