Research

Kids With Cancer Kick Out Pain and Breathe in Power in New Study

by Erinn Jessop, St. Baldrick's Foundation
August 24, 2017

For kids with cancer, pain is a part of life. But what happens to that pain when you teach pediatric patients martial arts and meditation? With some help from an MRI machine, a group of karate kids, and a St. Baldrick’s Supportive Care Research grant, researcher Dr. Hilary Marusak is going to find out.

Dr. Hilary Marusak with pediatric patients

Dr. Hilary Marusak, a postdoctoral research fellow at Wayne State University, visits with a group of young martial artists during a session of the Kids Kicking Cancer program.

Neuroscientist Dr. Hilary Marusak may be new to the world of childhood cancer, but she’s no stranger to what kids with cancer and their families experience every day – stress. Working for the past several years in high-crime parts of Detroit, Michigan, she saw how stresses, like violence and abuse, could harm a child for life.

“The brain, when it’s developing, is really sensitive to these types of adverse experiences,” she explained. “So, that’s why I was really interested in understanding how that affects the brain and how we can intervene and get the brain onto a healthier trajectory for kids who are exposed to those types of experiences.”

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Research

Researchers Engineer a Promising Treatment for AML

by Erinn Jessop, St. Baldrick's Foundation
August 18, 2017

Acute myeloid leukemia (AML) is tough for doctors to treat. Because of that, the intense treatment needed to beat AML can be especially tough on the kids who have it. St. Baldrick’s researcher Dr. Anders Kolb wants to change that with targeted therapy. To do this, he’s getting a little help from his friends – including St. Baldrick’s.

Dr. Anders Kolb

Dr. Anders Kolb is one of St. Baldrick’s newest grantees.

Many kids in treatment for AML are getting hammered by strong treatments, like intense chemotherapy and bone marrow transplants. These therapies can save their lives, but often come with a steep cost as they grow up.

“There’s only so much we can do with the tools in our toolbox,” said Dr. Anders Kolb, who works at the Alfred I. Dupont Hospital for Children in Delaware. “We have five different hammers and they’re all really big hammers. We don’t have anything that is more subtle and more targeted.”

Not yet, at least.

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Research

Meet the St. Baldrick’s Innovation Award Winners

by Erinn Jessop, St. Baldrick's Foundation
August 11, 2017

What do researchers Dr. Alex Huang and Dr. Carl Allen have in common? Passion, curiosity, drive, brilliant ideas, a desire to help kids — the list goes on! And now there’s something else. They are both recipients of the first St. Baldrick’s Innovation Award. What do they want to do with this unique grant? Read on to find out.

Dr. Carl Allen and Dr. Alex Huang

Dr. Carl Allen (left) is an associate professor at Texas Children’s Cancer Center and one of the investigators involved in the North American Consortium for Histiocytosis (NACHO), which received a St. Baldrick’s Consortium Grant. St. Baldrick’s researcher Dr. Alex Huang (right) is a professor of pediatrics at Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine and a 10-time shavee with St. Baldrick’s.

St. Baldrick’s researchers Dr. Alex Huang and Dr. Carl Allen work on different projects, in different labs about 1,300 miles away from each other.

Dr. Huang primarily studies how immunotherapy can help kids with cancer, while Dr. Allen studies Langerhans Cell Histiocytosis or LCH, which is caused by out-of-control immature white blood cells. The disorder can cause inflammatory tumors, damage organs and even cause brain degeneration in some patients.

The two researchers may work in different areas on different projects, but since the start of their careers in medicine, they’ve shared a goal — to help sick kids get better. And now they have something else in common.

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Families

Through Research My Son’s Star Still Shines Bright

by Judy Sanders
August 8, 2017

Diagnosed with a rare sarcoma when he was a toddler, Honored Kid Alan passed away five years ago. With his chubby-cheeked grin and bright personality, the 2014 St. Baldrick’s Ambassador has inspired all of us — and as his mom writes in this blog, Alan’s impact continues to be felt in a big, brilliant way. Read on to learn how…

Dr. Nino Rainusso and the Sanders family

Dr. Nino Rainusso meets with Alan’s family, plus Hilly the bear, a stuffed panda purchased in Washington D.C. to represent Alan’s lost opportunities.

Four years ago, we established a Hero Fund with the St. Baldrick’s Foundation to raise money for sarcoma research in Alan’s memory. Last July we were thrilled to share that the fundraising we had done through Alan’s Sarcoma Research Fund had given us the opportunity to name a grant.

Dr. Nino Rainusso of Baylor College of Medicine at Texas Children’s Hospital would be named the Alan’s Sarcoma Research Fund St. Baldrick’s Scholar for his work in identifying and examining the most difficult-to-treat cancer cells from patients at Texas Children’s.

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Research

Researchers Team up to Tackle Ethnic Disparity in Childhood Cancers

by Erinn Jessop, St. Baldrick's Foundation
August 7, 2017

What do childhood cancer researchers do when they see a problem? They band together to solve it. Read on to learn why institutions across Texas and California are joining forces and what they’re doing to help kids with cancer.

Dr. Philip Lupo

Dr. Philip Lupo is the principal investigator of the REDIAL Consortium, as well as an Associate Professor of Pediatrics at Baylor College of Medicine and Co-Director of the Epidemiology Program at Texas Children’s Cancer and Hematology Centers.

Years ago, St. Baldrick’s researcher Dr. Philip Lupo and his colleagues at Houston’s Baylor College of Medicine noticed a problem.

According to studies they read and stories Dr. Lupo heard from clinicians, kids who are Hispanic don’t do as well on treatment as other kids with acute leukemias. They are more likely to experience complications and are at higher risk of relapse than kids of other backgrounds.

But scientists don’t know exactly why that is.

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News

CAR T Cell Therapy and a Turning Point in Treatment: News From the Dream Team

by Becky C. Weaver, Chief Mission Officer, St. Baldrick's Foundation
August 1, 2017

As one of the most exciting projects supported by St. Baldrick’s – the SU2C-St. Baldrick’s Pediatric Cancer Dream Team – nears the end of its funding, a group of expert reviewers met at Stanford University on July 14th to evaluate its impact to date. To say they were impressed would be an understatement.

The Dream Team

Members of the Dream Team gather at a meeting in July to discuss the impact of their research efforts.

The day began with a report from Dr. Stephan Grupp, director of the Cancer Immunotherapy Program at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia.

He had flown to the Dream Team meeting straight from the Maryland headquarters of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), where hundreds had packed a hearing room the day before. An FDA advisory panel was considering what could soon be the first gene therapy to be marketed in the United States, pioneered by Dr. Grupp and his colleagues.

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News

Announcing St. Baldrick’s 2017 Summer Grants [VIDEO]

by St. Baldrick's Foundation
July 25, 2017

When the school bell rang for summer break, what did you do? Swim like a fish? Swing as high as the stars? Swoon over your summer love? Press pause on reliving those childhood glory days for a second, because we’ve got great news. Together, we are helping kids with cancer get back to being kids — all that summer fun included. Say hello to our 2017 Summer Grants!

2017 Summer Grants

Dr. Hilary Marusak received a St. Baldrick’s Supportive Care Research grant for her work studying whether a martial arts therapy that focuses on meditation and breathing techniques can reduce pain — and pain’s negative long-term impact — in kids with cancer and survivors.

Today, St. Baldrick’s is proud to announce our latest round of grants — our 2017 Summer Grants, totaling $23.5 million.

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Kids with Cancer

Teaching Good Cells to ‘See’ Cancer: Researcher Uses CAR T Cells to Help Kids Like Zach [VIDEO]

by Erinn Jessop, St. Baldrick's Foundation
July 19, 2017

From CAR T cell therapy in May to a bone marrow transplant in June, over the past few weeks we’ve been following the tremendous journey of Honored Kid Zach Swart. Now we bring you another angle — a closer look at the St. Baldrick’s-funded research that has changed Zach’s life.

Dr. Kevin Curran

St. Baldrick’s researcher Dr. Kevin Curran meets with a patient at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center.

A couple months ago, Zach Swart went through yet another medical procedure; one more to add to an already substantial history of biopsies and blood draws.

But this procedure was different than a typical needle poke.

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Research

From Cancer Treatment to Parenthood: The Impact of Childhood Cancer on Fertility

by Erinn Jessop, St. Baldrick's Foundation
July 11, 2017

When a child survives cancer, the journey isn’t over. Childhood cancer survivors face the effects of their treatment for the rest of their lives — even when they decide to have children of their own. Meet 2012 St. Baldrick’s Ambassador Sarah, a 28-year-old survivor who’s ready to be a mom, and Dr. Jill Ginsberg, a St. Baldrick’s researcher who’s determined to preserve the fertility of people like Sarah.

A collage of Sarah and Patrick

Sarah and Patrick have been together for 10 years, through Sarah’s relapse and beyond. Last year, they got married. Now they want to start a family and they are ready to face the challenges together.

As long as she can remember, Sarah Rostock wanted to be a mom. But she didn’t anticipate one massive obstacle — childhood cancer.

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Families

A Life Saved in Six Minutes: An Update on Zach [VIDEO]

by Nancy Swart
July 5, 2017

Last week, we shared Honored Kid Zach’s amazing story and the news that the three-time cancer fighter was going to get a bone marrow transplant — a procedure that could put the 15-year-old into remission for good. Today, about a week after the transplant, Zach’s mom has an update.

Zach and his family before his BMT

The family gathers before Zach’s bone marrow transplant. From left to right: Nancy, Ben, Tom and Zach, with Gabe on Facetime.

My son, Zach, is fighting cancer for the third time, which means this is the third time going through tests, treatments and all the uncertainties that follow. Zach had three months of intense chemo therapy to try to get him into remission before his bone marrow transplant or BMT. At the end of his treatments, through numerous hospitalizations, we learned that Zach was not in remission.

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