Research

2022 Infrastructure Grants to Support Clinical Trials

by St. Baldrick's Foundation
November 21, 2022

We call these “infrastructure grants” because they provide support for programs and personnel that are necessary to open and coordinate clinical trials. (No, we’re not building roads and bridges here!).

Clinical trials are vital to getting drugs and new treatments approved, resulting in access to effective medications for children with cancer. In 2021, the FDA used Children’s Oncology Group clinical trial data to authorize pediatric labeling indications for four chemotherapeutics, more than any prior year.

While vital, clinical trials are very labor intensive and require significant resources and staff and to ensure all children with cancer who are eligible for studies can be enrolled on these studies.

Most of these new grants support personnel to do the work to manage clinical trials – to enroll patients, manage data, and all the other “behind the scenes” work.

Research truly is a team effort, thank you for being part of it.

This $1.2 million in vital support goes to:

  • Arizona  
    • Phoenix Children’s Hospital, Phoenix 
  • California
    •  Loma Linda University, Loma Linda         
    • The Regents of the University of California, San Francisco, San Francisco                 
    • Valley Children’s Healthcare, Madera         
    • Children’s Hospital of Orange County, Orange         
    • The Regents of the University of California, Los Angeles 
  • Connecticut 
    • Connecticut Children’s, Hartford 
  • District of Columbia 
    • Children’s National Medical Center (WDC), Washington  
  • Florida 
    • St. Joseph’s Children’s Hospital of Tampa, Tampa 
  • Georgia 
    • Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta, Inc., Atlanta 
  • Illinois 
    • Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago, Chicago 
  • Indiana  
    • Indiana University, Bloomington 
  • Iowa 
    • Blank Children’s Cancer and Blood Disorders Center, Des Moines 
  • Louisiana 
    • Ochsner Hospital for Children, New Orleans 
    • Children’s Hospital New Orleans, New Orleans 
  • Michigan 
    • Children’s Hospital of Michigan Foundation, Detroit  
  • Missouri 
    • SSM Health Cardinal Glennon Children’s Hospital, St. Louis 
  • New Jersey 
    • St. Joseph’s Health, Paterson      
  • New Mexico 
    • University of New Mexico HSC, Albuquerque 
  • New York 
    • The Melodies Center for Childhood Cancer and Blood Disorders at the Bernard & Millie Duker Children’s Hospital at Albany Medical Center, Albany         
    • SUNY Upstate Medical University, Syracuse     
  • North Carolina 
    • Wake Forest University Health Sciences, Winston-Salem 
  • South Carolina 
    • Bon Secours St. Francis Health System, Greenville 
  • Texas 
    • University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio (UT Health San Antonio), San Antonio 
    • El Paso Children’s Hospital Foundation, El Paso 
  • Virginia 
    • Children’s Hospital of The King’s Daughters, Norfolk       
  • Wisconsin 
    • HSHS St. Vincent Hospital, Green Bay         

Explore all the new grants to learn how your donations are helping make a lasting change in childhood cancer research, and helping children and teens of every background. And look for more grants soon!

Donate now and help support research into better treatments for kids with cancer

Donate

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Research

Research Outcomes: Building Hope

by St. Baldrick's Foundation
November 15, 2022

This research is powered by you. This quarterly edition of the St. Baldrick’s Foundation Research Outcomes recognizes promising research to improve survival rates, provide holistic therapies, and translate adult drugs into pediatric trials.

Thank you for making research possible.

Lab equipment with text Research Outcomes

Reducing the Deaths from Infection after Bone Marrow Transplant

A bone marrow transplant can cure difficult to treat pediatric leukemia but has many short-term and long-term side effects. One major risk after transplant is viral infections, which can be hard to treat with available medicine, and can be deadly. St. Baldrick’s Fellow Dr. Jeremy Rubinstein and colleagues have had great success in tackling these viral infections by taking T-cells (a type of infection fighting cell that is part of the immune system) donated by children’s personalized stem cell donors and engineering them to attack and kill certain viruses.

Recently published results from their clinical trial offering this therapy as a preventative measure suggest that this treatment has been very safe and effective. Next steps include a randomized trial comparing this approach to the standard of care to see which is best at preventing and limiting the complications of viral infections. This clinical trial has the potential to decrease the number of pediatric cancer survivors who die from infection while also shortening hospitalizations and decreasing the need for other anti-viral medications.

This research was generously supported by the Rally for Ryan Fund, a St. Baldrick’s Hero Fund.

Translating Adult Drugs to Treat Incurable Brain Tumors

St. Baldrick’s Fellow Dr. Nathan Dahl uses genetic screening to identify new therapeutic targets in diffuse midline gliomas (DMGs), childhood brain tumors that are currently incurable. He found that CDK9 inhibitors, a class of drugs already moving forward in adult clinical trials, are a potential new treatment.

With St. Baldrick’s support, Dr. Dahl found that these inhibitors effectively treated models of DMG with minimal toxic side effects. This identified a new class of effective drugs ready for rapid translation into pediatric trials for this devastating disease. This discovery has now formed the basis for a phase 1 clinical trial, providing hope for future patients.

This research was supported by the Kids Shouldn’t Have Cancer Foundation, a St. Baldrick’s non-profit partner.

A Holistic Approach to Childhood Cancer

With St. Baldrick’s support, Dr. Ashraf Mohamed was able to bring Integrative Oncology to Cook Children’s Medical Center in Ft. Worth, Texas. Integrative Oncology brings specialists together and provides complimentary therapies for pediatric cancer patients. These evidence-based practices include interventions like animal-assisted therapy, rehabilitative services, psycho-education, psychosocial screenings, behavioral health strategies, creative art therapies, chaplain services, safe herbs/supplements program, and pain management strategies.

Information collected from psychosocial screenings will show staff trends in psychosocial distress which will aid in patient diagnosis and treatment decisions, and recommendations for the appropriate complementary therapeutic interventions. Next steps include expanding the psychosocial screenings to caregiver screenings which will meet all the same goals as the patient and aid in a family centered intervention. With the use of a caregiver distress screening, it will ensure that psychosocial risk is adequately assessed, evaluated, and strategic steps are taken to mitigate psychosocial harm to the family.

More Pediatric FDA Approvals as a Result of Clinical Trial Data

When St. Baldrick’s makes a grant to the Children’s Oncology Group (COG) these funds help to open and maintain lifesaving clinical trials. In 2021, the FDA used COG clinical trial data to authorize pediatric labeling indications for four chemotherapeutics, more than any prior year. These pediatric labeling indications demonstrate the high data quality and reliability that COG can achieve. More importantly, these studies were pivotal to approvals which allow broad access to effective medications for children with cancer.

Not every publication or outcome of research supported by St. Baldrick’s makes the news, but each one adds to the body of scientific knowledge that takes us one step closer to better outcomes for kids with cancer. Your continued support will make more research possible to Conquer Kids’ Cancer. 

Donate now and help support research into better treatments for kids with cancer

Donate

Read more on the St. Baldrick’s blog:


Advocacy

St. Baldrick’s Inspires One Family’s Path to Advocacy 

by Julia’s mom, Melissa Alexander
November 10, 2022

I will never forget the evening of Sunday, December 14, 2014, when the ER doctor and the pediatric neurologist on call entered our triage room and told us that our sweet eight-year-old girl had a huge brain tumor and life-threatening obstructive hydrocephalus. That moment left an indelible mark on my heart. The fear, the heartache, helplessness, and especially the unyielding desire to eliminate our baby’s pain and suffering were soul-crushing.

Current photo of Julia sitting on stairs

“Supergirl Julia” today

As we watched our daughter, who we affectionately refer to as “Supergirl Julia” and countless other sweet children suffer through grueling surgeries and treatment, we longed to do something.

What we knew for sure is that kids deserved better. They deserved a chance at a healthy, happy, fulfilling life. We wanted to make it better for these little ones in whatever way we could. It was also important to us to pay forward the love and support others extended to us, but we just didn’t know how. Little did we know, St. Baldrick’s Foundation would soon show us the way.

We were introduced to this amazing organization in 2017 and were immediately impressed with its mission and work to fund research and find a cure for this horrible disease and knew this was how we wanted to support the cause. St. Baldrick’s asked Supergirl Julia to serve as one of their 2018 ambassadors, and that experience was life-changing for our family.

Julia with her parents at Childhood Cancer Action Days in 2018

Julia with her parents at Childhood Cancer Action Days in 2018

During Julia’s ambassadorship we learned about The Alliance for Childhood Cancer, a coalition of advocacy groups and nonprofits which St. Baldrick’s co-chairs, and who also sponsors an annual Childhood Cancer Action Days on Capitol Hill. We were invited to participate for the first time in 2018, and the events of the day were so uplifting. Meeting other parents and survivors like us and having a platform to share our stories with our legislators and encourage them to support pediatric cancer legislation further ignited our spirits of advocacy.

I will never forget the feeling in the Summer of 2018 when we found out that the STAR Act, the most comprehensive piece of childhood cancer legislation, was passed. My heart soared knowing that our little family was a part of making that happen. I’ve participated in every Action Day since, even virtually during the pandemic. Our family has extended our advocacy to work with state organizations and now attend Childhood Cancer Action Days at the Virginia State Capitol.

Most recently, I was honored to be selected for the American Association of Cancer Research (AACR) Scientist <-> Survivor Program. Through this program over 30 cancer advocates were invited to participate in the huge AACR Annual Conference in New Orleans and collaborate with the 20,000 researchers, doctors, and members of the medical field in attendance.

Another St. Baldrick’s mom and I were two of the three pediatric cancer advocates represented in the program, and we learned so much about the latest advancements in cancer research. We attended lectures by some of the world’s most renowned researchers, and I was filled with hope at the information I received on pediatric brain cancer research. Dr. Anna Barker, past deputy director of the National Cancer Institute (NCI), founded the program, and it was wonderful to be embraced and respected by medical practitioners who believe in the essential role advocates play in the fight against cancer.

Melissa and Dr. Ramakrishna at the AACR Annual Conference

Melissa and Dr. Ramakrishna

Our primary assignment was to present a poster on our advocacy target. It was such an honor to share with the conference participants St. Baldrick’s great work for pediatric cancer patients. I specifically focused on the success of the Survivorship portion of the STAR Act and the difference made in four short years to advance research and assistance for pediatric cancer survivors.

I was especially thrilled when one of our Supergirl’s very own oncologists Dr. Sneha Ramakrishna stopped by my booth. Not only did she take care of our sweet girl for an entire year during her fellowship at Johns Hopkins, but Dr. Ramakrishna is also conducting groundbreaking research with support from the St. Baldrick’s Foundation–SU2C Pediatric Cancer Dream Team grant. It was a full-circle moment, and I was overwhelmed with emotion.

St. Baldrick’s Foundation, without a doubt, played a pivotal role and served as a primary inspiration for our family’s extensive involvement in the cause today. We are forever grateful for our experience so far as pediatric cancer advocates and appreciate this wonderful organization for inspiring us to make this work a lifetime commitment.

I encourage you to join the fight to find a cure and give kids a lifetime. One way to get involved is by building support for the Childhood Cancer STAR Reauthorization Act. This bill will allow the programs from the STAR Act – including the investments in childhood cancer research and survivorship programs – to continue for 5 more years.

Click the link below, or text STAR4KIDS to 52886 to take action today  

Ask Your Lawmakers to Support the Childhood Cancer STAR Reauthorization Act Today!

Read more on the St. Baldrick’s blog:


Research

Using Precision Medicine to Improve Pediatric Cancer Treatment

by St. Baldrick's Foundation
November 1, 2022

EXCITING UPDATE November 1, 2022: The largest academic collaboration of its kind was announced last month, and it builds off this St. Baldrick’s supported work. The Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard, Dana-Farber Cancer Institute and St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital will collaborate to transform and accelerate the identification of vulnerabilities in pediatric cancers and translate them into better treatments.

Dr. Stegmaier said, “The Pediatric Cancer Dependency Map provided our community with a treasure trove of new data. However, the next critical step was to validate candidate gene targets emerging from this project. The St. Baldrick’s Foundation Robert J Arceci Innovation Award provided the critical funding for us to demonstrate the power of the Pediatric Cancer Dependency Map. 

With St. Baldrick’s support, we validated new candidate therapeutic targets in childhood cancers, such as Ewing sarcoma and neuroblastoma, which have led to the launching of drug discovery efforts, and we have gained novel insights into the mechanistic underpinnings of these diseases.  We were able to show our community the power of the project. I think we are just at the tip of the iceberg.  We are all very excited about the promise of what is to come through this new large-scale collaboration.”

We are excited to see the impact this collaboration has in helping to conquer childhood cancer.

What was once just a concept is now a reality: Precision pediatric cancer care to improve treatment.

Researchers can now sequence all the genes in the genome in an individual patient’s cancer to find gene changes or targets, and then in some cases, identify drugs that match those targets to improve treatment. (A genome includes all the genes in a cell, in this case, a cancer cell.)

This has absolutely transformed how doctors treat children with cancer in some cases.

Survival curve chart for ALL Schultz & Devidas, Leukemia 2014

Read more »


Research

Update: More Hope for Children with Cancer in Africa

by Becky C. Weaver, Chief Mission Officer, St. Baldrick's Foundation
October 27, 2022

Of the many incredible things St. Baldrick’s donors have made possible for kids with cancer, one stands out to me like no other. The return on investment from this one grant has already far exceeded expectations, and each year its impact continues to grow. 

A Seed Planted

With the goal of training doctors from low- and middle-income countries, the first St. Baldrick’s International Scholar was awarded in 2013. But while Dr. Joseph Lubega of Uganda was in training at Baylor College of Medicine in Houston, he was also planting a seed: He set up the first pediatric oncology program for pediatricians in his home country. 

With St. Baldrick’s support, Dr. Lubega became one of the first trained pediatric oncologists in all of Uganda, where the need is great – as it is across Africa.

Map infographic of Childhood Cancers in U.S. & Africa

And the ability for pediatricians in the region to specialize in childhood cancer without leaving Africa was a game-changer.

The first four doctors graduated from the program at Makerere University in Kampala, Uganda in August 2018. Including Dr. Lubega, there were then five trained pediatric oncologists in Sub-Saharan Africa – with more following in their footsteps.

A Tree Grows: An Update

Dr. Lubega’s St. Baldrick’s funding ended in 2019, but he often sends updates, always thanking St. Baldrick’s donors.

In August 2022, he wrote after several visits with colleagues, accompanied by Dr. David Poplack, Director of Global Hematology Oncology Pediatric Excellence (HOPE), Texas Children’s Cancer Center. Dr. Lubega writes:

Over the last couple of weeks, we touched base with several of the pediatric cancer teams that are led by the fellows we trained, and we continue to support. It is mind blowing how much progress has been made! The passion! The compassion! The effort these teams are putting into improving things for these children is so inspiring.

I have attached some photos for you.

Dr. Joseph Lubega and 2023 St. Baldrick’s Ambassador Natasha at her 14th birthday party

Dr. Joseph Lubega and 2023 St. Baldrick’s Ambassador Natasha at her 14th birthday party

Natasha, our St. Baldrick’s International Ambassador, is now over three years since she completed her therapy for acute myeloid leukemia, and we can confidently say she is cured, since AML very rarely relapses over three years later. More importantly, July 27 was her 14th birthday, and we hosted a birthday party for her in Kampala – you can see the city in the background.

Dr. Fred Lutwama, current St. Baldrick’s International Scholar (center) with Dr. David Poplack (left), and Dr. Joseph Lubega (right)

Dr. Fred Lutwama, current St. Baldrick’s International Scholar (center) with Dr. David Poplack (left), and Dr. Joseph Lubega (right)

We touched base with Dr. Fred Lutwama, current St. Baldrick’s International Scholar. He is making lots of progress in building the molecular diagnostic capacity in Kampala.  

Ten of the pediatric oncologists transforming care for children fighting cancer in Africa

Ten of the pediatric oncologists transforming care for children fighting cancer in Africa

We visited Dar es Salaam in Tanzania where Dr. Lulu Chirande (next to Dr. Poplack) and Dr. Nana Nakiddu (extreme right), both graduates of our training program at Makerere University in Uganda, are now leading another training program. This one is at Muhimbili University (MUHAS) in Dar es Salaam, with a total of six fellows: three in year 1 and three in year 2 (graduating this year). Dr. Fat-Hiya Al-Oufy, second right, will be the first pediatric oncologist in Zanzibar.

Five more pediatric cancer leaders with Drs. Lubega and Poplack

Five more pediatric cancer leaders with Drs. Lubega and Poplack

The training program in Uganda at Makerere University College of Health Sciences is thriving. Dr. Ruth Namazzi (far left), one of our very first graduates there, is the Fellowship Director. Dr. Joseph Gore (front center) is one of the fellows and will be the first pediatric oncologist in South Sudan.

The St. Baldrick’s mustard seed is now a massive tree!

Branching Out Across Africa

Twenty people have now graduated from the program in Uganda, and they are leading pediatric cancer care and research at nine different centers across Africa. These pediatricians are now seeing more than 2,500 new children each year, in Uganda, Kenya, Tanzania, Malawi, and Botswana. Natasha is just one of them.

And it all started with one grant, made possible by St. Baldrick’s donors. Thank you.

Natasha in school uniform

Donate in honor of Natasha and others fighting cancer in Africa

Donate

 

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Childhood Cancer

What It’s Like: A Survivor’s Speech 

by St. Baldrick's Foundation
October 11, 2022

The following speech was a highlight of the March 2022 St. Baldrick’s event at St. Agnes Parish Center in Rockville Centre, NY. With thanks to Greta, we’re sharing it so others can hear her experience and how she feels about St. Baldrick’s, as a childhood cancer survivor.

“Hi! My name is Greta Ohanian and I am currently 6 years out of treatment for Hodgkin’s lymphoma. Sometimes I struggle with what to say at events like this because there are so many aspects of cancer that I could touch on as a survivor. But one of the worst parts is how frightening it is to go into a cancer diagnosis knowing how limited the treatment is.

Greta during treatment.

Being diagnosed with cancer at such a young age is incredibly scary and terrifying and we need more options. I am standing here talking to you years after my diagnosis, but there are so many people who were in my same shoes who can’t be here today because the research just wasn’t there for them. The treatment available just wasn’t enough. My own chemotherapy regimen almost didn’t work for me. And sometimes I find myself wondering if there ever was a plan B. What would we have done then, and where would I be now?

The kids we are representing today were all at some point in their life told that yes, they had cancer. Even though they were too young. Even though they were just kids. They had cancer, and they needed intense treatment. They were told that they would have to miss school, that they couldn’t see their friends because their immune system just couldn’t handle it. They were told that joining the lacrosse team would have to be put off until next spring when they would hopefully be all better. They stopped showing up to soccer games on the weekends, and their desk at school became empty.

And so many of them will never know what it’s like to feel the thrill of getting their first college acceptance letter, the excitement of going to prom, or the incredibly proud feeling of accomplishment that comes with graduating high school. They will never know these things because they had cancer, and the research wasn’t there. 

Greta during one of her first chemotherapy treatments.

By donating to St. Baldrick’s, you are funding research ideas that help make sure that when a child is diagnosed with cancer, they always have options. Donating a little bit may not seem like a lot, but all these donations pulled together can fund a research idea, which could turn into a study, which could turn into a clinical trial. And this clinical trial could give a kid with cancer an enormous amount of hope. A clinical trial could give them another shot at achieving those milestones like graduating high school. By donating to St. Baldrick’s, you are investing in a child’s life and their future, as well as providing hope to patients, to their families, and to survivors like me. 

I don’t think I’ll ever forget my very first St. Baldrick’s event because of just how much all the support meant to me.

Greta with her dad and brothers at 2016 St. Baldrick’s event.

I had finished treatment the month prior and was very much still feeling all of the chemotherapy side effects. I remember how I hardly made it through the event because I was so exhausted. But I also remember how cool it was to see all of these people coming together to fight the disease that had taken over my life that year, and I remember how for the first time ever, I didn’t stand out with my bald head, I blended in.

I remember how being surrounded by people who had shaved their head that day made me feel more comfortable in my own skin than I had been in months. The impact that day made on me as a 17-year-old just coming out of cancer treatment is one I will never forget, and is something I will always be grateful for. 

Greta shaving her dad’s head at 2016 St. Baldrick’s event.

So keep coming to St. Baldrick’s, enter the raffles, buy a t-shirt for yourself, and one for a friend. Listen to those who are speaking and don’t forget what they say. Be inspired by those who are braving the shave, or better yet sign up to shave your head yourself. Because if I can pull off a bald head, so can you! And don’t ever forget the impact you made just by showing up today.

Greta during the summer of 2022.

Greta’s words are a gift. Why not consider your own gift to help kids like her? Consider signing up for a monthly donation to St. Baldrick’s, and you could help give kids like Greta hope.

Donate now and help support research into better treatments for kids with cancer

Donate

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Childhood Cancer

Make an Impact this Childhood Cancer Awareness Month

by St. Baldrick's Foundation
August 16, 2022

As Childhood Cancer Awareness Month approaches this September, we are focused not only on many battles for progress, but on winning the war against all forms of cancers that attack babies, children, teens and young adults.

Thanks to St. Baldrick’s supporters, researchers are making advancements and discoveries daily. And the work of our advocates has also changed the game, resulting in the National Cancer Institute more than doubling its investment in childhood cancer research.

But now is the time to take more action, push forward and use the momentum we have to reach our vision of living in a world where kids no longer die of cancer, and survivors live longer, healthier lives.

As a volunteer and donor powered charity, every bit of progress St. Baldrick’s makes possible is a direct result of individuals like YOU.

This year, for Childhood Cancer Awareness month, our goal is to raise $1.5 million dollars. This money will save lives, starting with the next round of St. Baldrick’s grants this October.

Here are some ways you can get involved for Childhood Cancer Awareness Month. It’s time to take action and prove that we can #conquerkidscancer!

Advocate

Childhood Cancer Awareness Month is also an exciting time for advocacy. Throughout the month of September, advocates across the country will be speaking up for kids with cancer. Here are a few upcoming advocacy opportunities in September:

  • Tuesday, September 13: Members of the Alliance for Childhood Cancer, which St. Baldrick’s co-chairs, are heading to Capitol Hill to advocate for the Childhood Cancer STAR Reauthorization Act. Join the St. Baldrick’s Speak Up advocacy network to receive updates on how YOU can amplify their advocacy!
  • Thursday, September 22: The Childhood Cancer Caucus is holding its annual Summit to discuss policies impacting the childhood cancer community.
  • Friday, September 23: The White House is holding a Childhood Cancer Forum, which you can livestream from home. Sign up here for more information on how to participate in the Forum virtually.

Get Social and Start a Fundraiser

Today, there are 4.7 billion social media users around the world! How great it is that so many of us are connected. That’s why this September, you are encouraged to create your own Facebook fundraiser during Childhood Cancer Awareness Month – to rally your network about your passion to support lifesaving childhood cancer research through St. Baldrick’s.

We’ve got a Toolkit full of instructions and goodies for everyone thinking of hosting a Facebook Fundraiser. Click here to access it.

Head-shaving

Every St. Baldrick’s event starts with the passion of a single volunteer. Bring your community together to raise funds for childhood cancer research by organizing a signature head-shaving event. As a volunteer event organizer, you’ll work directly with foundation staff to ensure your event is not only a great time, but a success, to help kids with cancer.

If you’re not ready to organize an event but still want to participate, that’s terrific, too! Check your area for any upcoming events near you and sign up to shave or volunteer. There are options for everyone!

To learn more about head-shaving events, click the link below!

St. Baldrick’s Head-shaving Events

September 12th is National Video Game Day

You can help #ConquerKidsCancer by hosting a charity stream on Tiltify for St. Baldrick’s. Click this link and join one of our “Current Fundraising Events” to help raise awareness and funds in your community.

We even have a Toolkit filled with some great info to help you promote your stream. For questions or to request the toolkit, contact Creates@StBaldricks.org.

Style With a Purpose

St. Baldrick’s is offering limited edition St. Baldrick’s “Research is Hope” shirts, but only until September 30. Raise awareness and support the mission in style!

A minimum of $10 per shirt will go to St. Baldrick’s Foundation for this limited time campaign, ending September 30, 2022.

Shop our Bonfire campaign here

Coworkers Unite!

September is a great month to rally your co-workers and host an employee giving campaign or engage your team in a company-wide fundraiser. Psst, we have loads of ideas. Let’s talk!

Corporate.Partnerships@StBaldricks.org

Give Shoppers a Choice

Online and in-store retailers, we have a turnkey solution for you to offer shoppers a way to give at checkout. Customers will have an opportunity to help conquer kids’ cancer by giving a donation after their purchase, making their shopping experience more meaningful.

Contact Corporate.Partnerships@StBaldricks.org for more information.

Childhood Cancer Awareness Month is the ideal time to join forces in the battle to give kids a lifetime by conquering childhood cancer. Taking part in one or more of the above items is a way to demonstrate that everyone can make an impact, together.

Read more on the St. Baldrick’s blog:


Research

Research Outcomes: Your Dollars at Work

by St. Baldrick's Foundation
August 8, 2022

Read on to learn about some of the research that – thanks to you – is changing the world of childhood cancer care.

lab equipment with text Research Outcomes

A Key Gene Is Turned On In Most Cancer Types

St. Baldrick’s Fellow Dr. Jessica Tsai and colleagues discovered that a gene called FOXR2 that is normally turned off in most tissues is activated in at least 70% of cancer types. Their study, recently published in Cancer Research, may help researchers understand how cancer develops. For instance, they found that osteosarcoma shows FOXR2 expression and that FOXR2 boosts the growth rate of brain tumors, including diffuse midline gliomas. There is still a lot to learn about how the gene is activated and they are already working to figure out how to target this gene with new treatments.

Did you see it? Dr. Tsai was featured on a recent Impact Series – watch it here

Developing CAR T Cells Faster

CAR T cell therapy is a type of immunotherapy, fighting cancer with a patient’s own altered immune cells. A new approach from researchers including St. Baldrick’s Scholar Dr. Saba Ghassemi, has drastically cut the time it takes to alter patients’ immune cells for infusion back into the body to find and attack cancer. This process typically takes 9-14 days, but as shown in a recent publication in Nature Biomedical Engineering, Dr. Ghassemi and colleagues generated functional CAR T cells in just 24 hours. This demonstrates the potential for a substantial reduction in the time, materials, and labor required to generate CAR T cells, which could be especially beneficial in patients with rapidly progressive disease and in resource-poor healthcare environments.

Potential New Drug For Ewing Sarcoma

Results from the St. Baldrick’s Foundation Martha’s BEST Grant for All were presented at the recent American Association of Cancer Research (AACR) Special Conference. This research showed that when tested in models, a new drug candidate was 25 times stronger than current FDA approved drugs in trials for Ewing sarcoma treatment. “These newly presented in-vitro data suggest promising activity for our novel kt-3000 series drug candidates as a potential treatment for Ewing sarcoma and other treatment-resistant cancers,” said St. Baldrick’s supported researcher Mads Daugaard, PhD.

The St. Baldrick’s Martha’s BEST Grant for All is funded through an anonymous $1 million donation aimed at developing new treatments for Ewing sarcoma, an aggressive bone and soft tissue cancer in children and young adults. This grant is named for a special teenager who passed away from Ewing sarcoma.

Recent FDA Approval

The FDA recently approved the combination of 2 targeted drugs for the treatment of adults and children ages 6 years or older with nearly any type of advanced solid tumor that has a specific mutation in a gene called BRAF. This mutation can increase the growth and spread of cancer cells. Results from three clinical trials, including one with pediatric patients, laid the groundwork for the approval. Data from the pediatric trial was also used to adapt the use of Trametinib in a phase 2 trial for pediatric patients with relapsed or refractory Juvenile Myelomonocytic Leukemia (JMML). The St. Baldrick’s Foundation is providing support for this JMML phase 2 COG study, and we are eager to see results from this trial.

Not every publication of research supported by St. Baldrick’s makes the news, but each one adds to the body of scientific knowledge that takes us one step closer to better outcomes for kids with cancer. Your continued support will make more research possible to Conquer Kids’ Cancer.

Donate now and help support research into better treatments for kids with cancer

Donate

Read more on the St. Baldrick’s blog:


Research

Announcing St. Baldrick’s Foundation July 2022 Grants 

by St. Baldrick's Foundation
July 27, 2022

St. Baldrick’s donors have just funded over $8.9 million to advance research to find cures for childhood cancers and give survivors long and healthy lives. This investment brings the total granted by St. Baldrick’s for research since 2005 to more than $322 million.

These 23 new grants include:

  • 7 new St. Baldrick’s Scholars
  • 9 current Scholars receiving continuing funding for another year of research
  • 2 new International Scholars, one from Egypt and one from Jordan
  • 1 current International Scholar from India receiving funding for another year of research

The remaining grants support the clinical trials of the Children’s Oncology Group and another year of funding for 2 team science (consortium) projects and for the Pediatric Cancer Data Commons.

The St. Baldrick’s Foundation supports lifesaving research throughout the world, awarding grants that focus on all major types of childhood cancers. Read on for more about just 3 of these new research projects. Explore the links at the bottom to view all the grants.

Understanding Radiotherapy and Pediatric Brain Tumors

St. Baldrick’s Scholar, Dr. Claire Vanpouille-Box, is advancing research into radiotherapy treatment for brain tumors. Recently scientists found that radiotherapy can activate the immune system against multiple tumors. However, the tumors of patients who undergo radiotherapy always regrow, which suggest that radiotherapy is not activating immunity against these tumors. Dr. Vanpouille-Box will work to understand why this is happening to develop strategies that will improve treatment for pediatric brain cancer patients.

Developing an Inexpensive and Accurate Cancer Detecting Tool

St. Baldrick’s International Scholar, Dr. Anirban Das is developing a new, inexpensive tool to identify children with a genetic variation that can lead to deadly cancers which may not respond to conventional treatments. Many older tests often fail to detect this genetic trait accurately. With this new tool, Dr. Das has found that these cancers may be more common than previously thought, and can also develop in adolescents and young adults. The tool also helps detect patients whose cancers do not respond to chemotherapy and radiation but could respond to immunotherapy. With this additional year of funding, Dr. Das is now expanding the use of his tool to identify additional patients and cancer types who may benefit from this approach. This is important especially for developing countries, where such cancers are more prevalent. The low cost, and the ability to diagnose the genetic condition from tumors directly, or even from saliva without additional blood tests, are distinct advantages in these resource limited settings.  

Advancing Research into Rare Cancers like Histiocytosis

The St. Baldrick’s Foundation has supported the North American Consortium for Histiocytosis (NACHO) since 2014. Histiocytosis is a group of rare disorders, most common in children, in which there is an over-production of white blood cells known as histiocytes that can lead to organ damage and tumor formation. Before NACHO, there was little progress in knowledge and new therapy development for this wide variety of conditions. NACHO has 63 member institutions working together and with this additional year of funding they aim to keep growing so that children all over North America will have access to clinical trials that could save their lives. 

Thank you for supporting the best research, no matter where it takes place, to help all kids with cancer survive and thrive.

The full list of institutions receiving grants:

The next set of grants will be announced in November, supported by donations between now and October. Visit the St. Baldrick’s grants page to learn more about all the research you’re making possible.

Donate now and help support research into better treatments for kids with cancer

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Advocacy

Childhood Cancer: A parent’s role, finding a voice, and a path through advocacy

by St. Baldrick's Foundation
July 20, 2022

This was written by Abby’s mom, Patty Furco.

Cancer can make you feel helpless. You want to fix things for your child and you can’t. During and after treatment, parents have little control. Yes, we can advocate for our kids, find the best medical team, the best treatments, hospital, and love on them. But how can we help?

I want to help others that are on the path we lived on for years. Witnessing the devastation and disruption that childhood cancer families go through, it’s impossible to not be changed by what I’ve seen and experienced. My journey as a hands-on, living it day to day, childhood cancer caregiver is over. My incredible daughter Abby, forever 15, passed away last October after a valiant 11-year battle with cancer and its effects. However, my role in the childhood cancer world is not over. I need to help. I do not want other families going through things that we did. How can I (and we as a childhood cancer community) make things better for children and families? How do we create more survivors? Where do we go from here?

In 2012, we learned about the St. Baldrick’s Foundation funding childhood cancer-specific1 research and knew we wanted to join their efforts. Before we were part of the childhood cancer world, St. Baldrick’s had funded two trials that Abby had access to during her treatments – one drug helped her gain remission in 2011, and the other brought her out of heart failure in 2014/2015. Both of these drugs helped her live and love longer. We have fundraised, participated, and organized St. Baldrick’s Foundation events since.

We have been champions of childhood cancer research federal funding by visiting the halls of Congress in person and virtually over the years and by serving as a 2017 Ambassador family.

Abby Furco, Patty Furco, and Family

The St. Baldrick’s Foundation co-chairs a childhood cancer coalition called the Alliance for Childhood Cancer, which brings together other organizations and families to advocate for initiatives to help increase federal funding and federal childhood cancer support as a whole. We have introduced why childhood cancer-specific funding is needed and have secured support and funding for the Childhood Cancer STAR Act, the most comprehensive childhood cancer bill ever. This funding has created programs that help facilitate more research in childhood cancers and survivorship, ultimately in hopes to increase survivor rates and one day find cures.

Participating in these advocacy days has allowed me to meet other incredible families of both bereaved children and survivors. Not only are we able to support each other with a deep understanding, these meetings continue to fuel my fire to do more.

I was honored this year to be selected to nationally represent childhood cancer advocates and attend the American Association of Cancer Research (AACR) Scientist <-> Survivor Program. I joined 30 other patient advocates in person in New Orleans along with 20,000 researchers, doctors, medical representatives and overall just smart people. We learned so much as advocates and were exposed to exponentially more information about where cancer research is today and where it is headed in the future. Our program was founded, created, and facilitated by the incredible Dr. Anna Barker, past deputy director of the National Cancer Institute (NCI). Dr. Barker is a firm believer that a well-educated patient advocate role within cancer research is a pivotal piece of the puzzle. Our program was created to build us up, help us learn from one another and the thousands of educators at the conference, and then let us go out and do good things.

As a part of this program, I had the honor of presenting the St. Baldrick’s Foundation’s current action plan during a poster session and educating anyone that wanted to listen about the great things St. Baldrick’s does for children battling cancer.

But I am just one person. How can I be a bigger voice and spread the impact? I’m learning there isn’t one straightforward answer. The power of many is a key part of this. How can we as parents, family members or friends in the childhood cancer world help?

One way to help is by building support for the Childhood Cancer STAR Reauthorization Act. This bill will allow the programs from the STAR Act – including the investments in childhood cancer research – to continue for 5 more years. I invite you to click the link below, or text STAR4KIDS to 52886 to take action today.

For those of you in the trenches, I’ve got your back. You love on your child, you plan those appointments, scans, hospitalizations, medicines, treatments…do what you do each day. If there is a day that you have a moment to take a breath, do that first. Do something for yourself or other family members and friends. After that, if you feel the need for action, share your story. Take a moment to write or talk about your every day.

Even though I lived it every day for 11 years, I never quite grasped how powerful our stories can be. They are meaningful and can be helpful to others, not only in getting funding and sharing the importance of research, but also instilling hope.

We continue to fundraise, raise awareness, fund research, and love on our children, our families, other families in the battle, while we support one another. My story isn’t ending here, I’m still thinking, wondering, acting…what is next? How can I help even more? Stay tuned…

Click the link below, or text STAR4KIDS to 52886 to take action today

Ask Your Lawmakers to Cosponsor the STAR Reauthorization Act Today!

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