A new drug approved by the Food & Drug Administration (FDA) is great news for childhood cancer patients.
The drug – known as larotrectnib, or Vitrakvi – is the first developed to target a key genetic driver of cancer, rather than a specific type of tumor. In this case, the drug targets a gene fusion called NTRK, found in some patients with many different types of cancer.
Dr. Federman, a St. Baldrick’s Scholar from 2009 to 2014, was directly involved in Vitrakvi’s development.
Most six-year-old boys spend their time thinking about toys, candy and getting to school on time. Few need to worry about their health at such a young age, and even fewer face the uncertain future following a cancer diagnosis.
Fighting cancer was Zach’s world when he was six. In 2007, he was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia, or ALL. Over the next four years, Zach underwent intense and physically demanding treatments like chemotherapy and radiation.
With the holiday season upon us and another year drawing to a close, it’s a great time to reflect on some of the major research accomplishments of doctors and scientists whose work on childhood cancers benefited from the support of St. Baldrick’s donors like you.
There’s much to be thankful for. All things considered, 2018 was a remarkably successful year for childhood cancer research, with much of that success spurred on by grants funded by St. Baldrick’s. Of course, none of this would have been possible without our generous donors.
Dr. Kohanbash’s cutting-edge research on ependymomas is supported by a Hero Fund in memory of Henry Cermak, who passed away in 2008 after a long, 2-year fight that included many surgeries, chemo regimens, and 93 rounds of radiation.
Just over three years ago, the St. Baldrick’s Foundation created its Robert J. Arceci Innovation Award. Designed to give innovative childhood cancer researchers unfettered freedom to explore, it has become one of the most unique and impactful initiatives in pediatric cancer funding.
Today, St. Baldrick’s is pleased to announce that Dr. Laura Broutier of Lyon, France, is the newest recipient of the award.
Dr. Laura Broutier of Lyon, France, the newest recipient of the Robert J. Arceci Innovation Award.
The St. Baldrick’s Foundation has announced its 2018 Infrastructure Grant recipients. In total, the grants amount to more than $1.7 million and will be spread across 29 US-based institutions.
For more than a decade, Dr. McLean has been participating in head-shaving events with the St. Baldrick’s Foundation. That’s right – not only does Dr. McLean help fight cancer at Wake Forest Baptist Health in Winston-Salem, N.C., he’s also one of many researchers who help raise money for childhood cancer research by having his own head shaved clean.
It’s a fact the friendly doctor laughs off by pointing out he doesn’t have a lot of hair to shave away in the first place.
“The first time I shaved my head, I was nervous,” Dr. McLean joked. “But then I did it, and I quickly realized, you know, it’s not that big of a deal – my hair is pretty short anyways.”
Dr. Tom McLean, winner of a 2018 Infrastructure Grant, has shaved his head for St. Baldrick’s 10 times.
An ependymoma is a cancerous tumor that emerges in the brain or anywhere along the spine, from the neck all the way down to the lower back. These tiny tumors take shape in cells found in the spinal cord or the brain’s ventricles, cavities that contain fluid responsible for cushioning our brain and preventing injury.
Ependymomas tend to start out very small and grow slowly over time – sometimes many years – meaning they can be hard to catch. Early symptoms range from seizures to headaches and blurry vision. Because there are many other conditions with these same symptoms, it can be difficult to diagnose ependymomas, especially in kids, who may have trouble explaining how the issue affects them.
Dr. Kohanbash’s St. Baldrick’s grant is supported by a Hero Fund in memory of Henry Cermak, who passed away in 2008 after a long, 2-year fight that included many surgeries, chemo regimens, and 93 rounds of radiation.
I was recently invited to serve as a patient family advocate for the St. Baldrick’s / Stand Up to Cancer Pediatric Cancer Dream Team representing the National Cancer Institute. If you’re not familiar with the Dream Team and what they’re doing, it’s worth taking a few minutes to read up on the project.
In short, it’s a multi-institutional effort to accelerate cures for childhood cancer by sharing the skill, knowledge and unique resources of 8 top-notch research institutions.
Carlos Sandi with his son, Honored Kid and Ambassador Phineas.
Imagine being born with an oversized tongue that makes breathing and eating a constant chore. Imagine starting life with an oversized pancreas that pumps an excessive amount of insulin, creating a wide range of unexpected health issues.
In fact, try to imagine being born with an abnormally large organ of any kind – tongue, liver, kidneys – and how this might affect your life.
Children with Beckwith-Wiedemann syndrome, otherwise known as BWS, live with these challenges every day. And it’s not the only health concern they face.
They’re also at a much higher risk of developing childhood cancer.
St. Baldrick’s Fellow Dr. Elliot Stieglitz is a big reader, but not in the way that you might think. Over three years, he read the DNA of one hundred children with JMML, a rare leukemia, and he discovered something major. Read on to learn how his discovery could lead to better treatments for kids with this rare disease.
RESEARCH DEVELOPMENT: Dr. Elliot Stieglitz has brought his St. Baldrick’s-funded research to a Phase 2 clinical trial for kids with relapsed JMML. In this trial, which is first of its kind in the United States, researchers will be testing whether an oral targeted medication used in the treatment of melanoma in adults slows or even kills leukemia cells in kids with persistent JMML. In addition, Dr. Stieglitz developed a test that predicts which JMML patients have the best prognosis and therefore need less intense therapy. He’s now in the process of establishing a clinical test that will eventually be available to patients. This test will help kids get just the treatment they need and avoid damaging long-term effects from harsh therapies. Keep up the great work, Dr. Stieglitz!
For St. Baldrick’s Fellow Dr. Elliot Stieglitz, being a pediatric oncologist is the perfect blend of emotional satisfaction and intellectual stimulation.
His heart is with the kids and their families, guiding them through the toughest time in their lives. His head is in the lab, trying to find better treatments for childhood cancer.
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