News

Your Donations Make Research Possible – and That Research is Shared Worldwide

by Becky C. Weaver, Chief Mission Officer, St. Baldrick's Foundation
August 14, 2019

Most St. Baldrick’s Foundation supporters know they are making hundreds of childhood cancer research projects possible. They may not realize the research they supported has been published in more than 1,350 research publications since 2005.

We’ll touch on just a few of those here. But first, why are publications important and how do they help find cures for childhood cancer? The answer started long ago.

Publishing Is Important to Pediatric Cancer Research

Back in 1665, Henry Oldenburg of the British Royal Society established a publication called the Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society. The goal was to create a public record of original contributions to science, and to encourage scientists to communicate with one another. 

From that long tradition to today, publication is an important final step of research. Imagine if researchers spent years discovering things that no one else ever saw. Publishing their findings gives researchers a way to share what they’ve learned, avoids others having to recreate those wheels, and provides a foundation for others to build on their work. 

When you see a story about medical research in the mainstream media, it most likely refers to a new publication in a scientific journal. These journals use a peer review process to help validate research findings. Only a few of the many scientific publications each year make the news, but each is one brick in the wall of scientific knowledge. Sometimes what looks like a simple brick becomes the foundation for a very important pillar, as science moves forward.

In the last six months alone, more than 100 new scientific publications have resulted from research supported by the St. Baldrick’s Foundation. Here are a few examples:

Acute Myeloid Leukemia and Differences in Pediatric Genetic Mutations in Children

The scientific journal Leukemia reported the findings of Dr. Alex Kentsis, a recipient of the prestigious St. Baldrick’s Robert J. Arceci Innovation Award, and his colleagues. The study explored the genetic landscape of acute myeloid leukemia (AML) and showed that the mutations behind the disease in children are different from those that trigger the same disease in adults. This helps to explain why AML is so difficult to treat in children and suggests new approaches for more accurate diagnosis and better therapies. 

Immunotherapy Treatment Makes Progress

The St. Baldrick’s – Stand Up to Cancer Pediatric Cancer Dream Team work was highlighted in two publications reporting on their progress with immunotherapy:

An article in the Journal of Clinical Investigation summarized research that suggests a way to identify in advance which pediatric or young adult leukemia or lymphoma patients are not likely to respond, or are likely to relapse after CD 19 CAR-T cell therapy, a relatively new way of using the immune system to fight cancer. This is an important tool for treatment decisions.

Also, the American Association for Cancer Research reported positive early results from a Phase I clinical trial using a combination of chemotherapy and CAR T cells for pediatric and adult patients with advanced HER2-positive sarcoma. While CAR T cell therapies have shown great progress in leukemias, this is significant because it’s one of the first signs it could be successful for solid tumors.

Challenges of Pediatric Cancer Survivorship

In April, the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health reported findings from a St. Baldrick’s Foundation Research Grant to Dr. Anne Kirchhoff. This research, also reported by KSLTV.com, shows that childhood cancer survivors have a greatly increased risk of respiratory-related hospitalizations on poor air quality days. Since respiratory issues are a leading cause of non-cancer death for childhood cancer survivors, the study highlights the importance of identifying risk factors and providing guidelines for them and their caretakers.

Also, you may have recently seen a report from PBS titled “Childhood cancer wipes out 11 million years of human potential each year.” The source was a publication in The Lancet resulting from research supported by the St. Baldrick’s Foundation, the most comprehensive analysis of the global burden of childhood cancer represented in disability-adjusted life-years (DALYs). The study was led by Dr. Lisa Force, now a St. Baldrick’s Fellow at St. Jude Children’s Research Center.  Also participating was St. Baldrick’s Scholar Dr. Nickhill Bhakta, who has done other important research on the late effects of childhood cancer treatment.

Genetic Sequencing and Pediatric Tumors

In May, the National Cancer Institute reported a surprising early finding from the NCI-COG Pediatric MATCH precision medicine clinical trial for pediatric cancer patients, led by St. Baldrick’s Innovation Award recipient Dr. Will Parsons. As reported at the annual meeting of the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO), genetic sequencing of the tumors of children whose cancer does not respond to treatment led to about a quarter of these patients being matched with therapies to target their specific genetic alteration. Before the trial began, experts had predicted only a 10% match, so it was exciting to see more than twice the expected number of patients are benefitting from the trial.

Diverse Populations Benefit from St. Baldrick’s Infrastructure Grants

In June we saw astounding results from St. Baldrick’s Foundation Infrastructure Grants that have enabled more minorities and uninsured pediatric oncology patients to benefit from clinical trials in Chicago. The Journal of Adolescent and Young Adult Oncology reported on the results of the creation of a unified program for three institutions (University of Illinois at Chicago, Rush University Medical Center and John H. Stroger Hospital) to participate together in Children’s Oncology Group clinical trials.

Following the merger, the total number of studies open for these patients increased by 100%, and the number of patients enrolled increased by 446%. This included a 28-fold increase in the enrollment of uninsured patients, and a 533% increase in enrollment of minorities – 925% for Hispanic patients. Adolescents and young adult enrollments increased by 822%.

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.

Join the fight against childhood cancer.

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News

St. Baldrick’s Partners with American Cancer Society for ‘Cancer Doesn’t Care’ Campaign

by Kathleen Ruddy, Chief Executive Officer
August 12, 2019

One of the most vexing problems in pediatric cancer research is trying to find out why certain treatments work for some kids and not for others, or why some kids suffer more health consequences from the same treatment that others do not.

If you’re dealing with something concrete – like plumbing issues in your home, or a car that has suddenly stopped working – it’s usually a trial and error process that will tell you why. Why does the faucet leak? The pipe wasn’t properly tightened. Why did the timing belt go out on the car? Well, those things are only good for so many miles.

Pediatric cancers are much less concrete, and way more complex than plumbing or maintaining a car. And, given the life and death nature of pediatric cancer diagnoses, it’s of vital importance to ask the right questions and get the right answers.

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Facts

St. Baldrick’s Researcher Champions the Battle Against Osteosarcoma

by Becky C. Weaver, Chief Mission Officer, St. Baldrick's Foundation
July 30, 2019

July is Sarcoma Month, and since this is a disease that so often strikes children, teens and young adults, St. Baldrick’s supports a great deal of sarcoma research.  

Only about 1% of cancers diagnosed in adults are sarcomas, but they make up 20-25% of cancers between the age of 10 and 20. The most common are osteosarcoma (bone tumors), Ewing sarcoma (bone or soft tissue tumors) and rhabdomyosarcoma (muscle tumors).

Dr. Alejandro Sweet-Cordero is one of many St. Baldrick’s grant recipients tackling sarcomas, and his funding was made possible by our donors in a unique way.

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Facts

What is Burkitt Lymphoma?

by St. Baldrick's Foundation
July 26, 2019

Raman Bahal, Ph.D., a St. Baldrick’s Research Grant recipient at the University of Connecticut, Storrs, Connecticut, explains Burkitt Lymphoma symptoms, treatment options, and research opportunities.

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Childhood Cancer

St. Baldrick’s Grants Showcase Breadth of Pediatric Cancer Research

by St. Baldrick's Foundation
July 23, 2019

When the St. Baldrick’s Foundation announced its latest grant recipients today – via a press release that you can see here: Press Release – we were pleased to report that more than $17 million was awarded to a total of 55 recipients.

To put that into perspective, we award $27 million toward grants and advocacy efforts this year, so this represents the largest of our funding cycles during the year. (A complete list of the institutions that were awarded grants can be found at the end of this blog post. )

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Teens & Young Adults

Fear: The Realities of Life During Cancer Treatment

by Jake Teitelbaum
July 9, 2019

Editor’s Note: We’ve let Jake, the founder of Resilience Gives, tell us his experience of dealing with uncertainty during treatment.

Jake during treatment

After a few hours of watching carboplatin steadily drip into my bloodstream, I was relieved when my friend Alex poked her head around the corner of the oversized hospital room door. It was day three of my first inpatient stay since beginning my medical leave of absence, and Alex was the first non-family visitor. When she placed her hand beneath the Purell dispenser, I could see a game tucked underneath her arm.

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Do What You Want

Summer Fundraiser Ideas: 9 Ways To Make A Difference For Kids With Cancer

by St. Baldrick's Foundation
July 3, 2019

School is out, pools are open, and grills are fired up. Whether you want to make the most of the warm weather or you’re just looking for a way to get the kids involved, make this summer count by raising money to fund research that helps kids with cancer. Here are nine ideas to get you started.

1. Sports Challenge: Take advantage of the summer weather and organize an outdoor tournament with a suggested donation for entering. Take it to the sand for a game of beach volleyball or the park for some of our Summertime favorites like soccer, football, even frisbee golf.

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Childhood Cancer

Brooke Survives Cancer, Graduates Stanford – But Not Without A Lifetime’s Worth of Challenges

by Brooke Vittimberga
June 17, 2019

Editor’s Note: Brooke is an Ambassador and Honored Kid who just graduated from Stanford University. As Cancer Survivors Month continues on the St. Baldrick’s Blog, we’re letting her tell the story of how she got to this day in her own words.

On Thursday, September 24, 2015, my friends were finishing up their first week of junior year at Stanford. I was lying in a hospital bed, watching as my brother’s stem cells were infused into my body, replacing the bone marrow that had turned against me.

On Friday, September 25, my friends celebrated their first weekend back together at school. I had a grand mal seizure.

When I was diagnosed with acute myeloid leukemia at the end of my sophomore year of college, I knew that I was going to have a very different college experience from my peers. I had no idea how different it would be.

I had the impression that I would either die or I would live and return to my previous life. I had a high-risk form of leukemia that did not respond to my first round of chemotherapy, and at first it seemed that the death option was more likely.

But when I got into remission on a salvage round of chemotherapy and proceeded to my bone marrow transplant, I was hopeful that a return to “normal life” was possible.

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Advocacy

Happy Anniversary, Childhood Cancer STAR Act! Signed into Law One Year Ago Today

by Danielle Leach
June 5, 2019

The Childhood Cancer Survivorship, Treatment, Access, and Research (STAR) Act – the most comprehensive childhood cancer bill in history – was signed into law one year ago today!

2013 St. Baldrick’s Ambassador Matthias advocating on Capitol Hill

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Real-Life Stories

Survivorship: A Lifelong Journey

by Becky Chapman Weaver, Chief Mission Officer
May 31, 2019

Sunday, June 2 is National Cancer Survivors Day, and we at St. Baldrick’s have dubbed the entire month of June “Cancer Survivors Month.” Our focus for the month ahead will be to bring awareness to the fact that surviving childhood cancers is just the first step in a lifelong journey for many survivors.

A series of four copy-based statistic windows show the following important stats: first, that by the time they're 50, 99% of childhood cancer survivors will have had a chronic health problem other than cancer. Second, that in the U.S. there are 420,000 survivors of childhood cancer. Third, that by age 50, childhood cancer survivors will have faced an average of 17 adverse health effects from their cancer diagnosis. Finally, donors have helped fund more than 140 grants totaling over $19 million to improve survivorship outcomes.

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