When a patient is fighting cancer, a combination of two cancer treatments often works better than just one. Since August of 2019, another kind of combination has been at work to fight childhood cancers: A partnership between the St. Baldrick’s Foundation and the American Cancer Society.
Today we are excited to announce the first set of research projects to be supported by this partnership, totaling more than $2.8 million.
The two organizations each stand out in their own way – the American Cancer Society being one of the oldest and most well-known cancer charities in the U.S., and the St. Baldrick’s Foundation being the largest non-government funder of childhood cancer research. Combining forces to do something neither could do alone was an exciting venture.
While continuing their own separate missions, the two foundations took on the additional challenge of raising funds together for a type of childhood cancer research the scientists of both organizations had identified as a real need: to maximize what researchers learn from each child’s participation in a clinical trial.
What’s Different About These Grants?
What most people don’t realize is that while clinical trials give patients access to cutting-edge treatments, each trial is carefully designed to answer a specific research question – to show which of two treatment protocols achieves the best results for the most patients. But what the trial itself doesn’t do is answer the question of why.
The research funded by this unique partnership aims to leverage the information collected through specific clinical trials to learn more about the science behind the trial’s results. Why do some patients respond better than others to a particular treatment? Why does one treatment cause more late effects than another? What else can we learn from this trial that can speed up progress, to cure more children?
It sounds like common sense, but this kind of funding is hard for researchers to find. Clinical trials are very expensive, and the limited funds available are needed for the trial itself, with rarely any support left to answer these questions.
Once the partnership reached the first threshold of $4.4 million raised, the organizations together issued a request for proposals to researchers for these grants.
First Grants of the Partnership
Today we are proud to announce the first set of research projects funded by jointly by the St. Baldrick’s Foundation and the American Cancer Society, to begin July 1, 2021:
Pilot Accelerator Grants: These two-year projects are intended to include high-risk/high-reward research that tests feasibility and generates preliminary data to open new and highly innovative areas of investigation.
- Kelly Goldsmith, MD, Emory University — Biomarkers of GD2-targeted chemoimmunotherapy during frontline therapy and after relapse of high-risk neuroblastoma.
- Andras Herczey, MD, Baylor College of Medicine — Defining Cellular and Molecular Correlates of Therapeutic Activity in a Phase 1 Clinical Trial of CAR-NKT cells in Children with Neuroblastoma.
- Jatinder Lamba, PhD, University of Florida, Gainesville — Transcriptomic and pharmacogenetic based prognostic score to guide therapy in pediatric AML.
- Anders Kolb, MD, Alfred I. duPont Hospital for Children / Nemours Children’s Clinic – Delaware Valley of The Nemours Foundation / Alfred I. duPont Hospital for Children — Validating detection of novel biomarkers for the Pediatric Acute Leukemia (PedAL) Initiative Sub-trial.
Team Accelerator Grants: These four-year projects are designed to foster innovative and interdisciplinary collaborative research to promote transformational advances in childhood cancer research.
- Yael Mosse, MD, The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia — Improving patient outcomes for ALK mutant neuroblastoma through precision molecular targeting and monitoring.
- Soheil Meshinchi, MD, PhD, Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center — Integrated transcriptome-based prognostic and disease monitoring strategies in childhood AML.
Just as a combination of therapies can benefit a cancer patient, this combination of efforts between two organizations is giving childhood cancer research a major boost.
The ultimate fundraising goal of the partnership is $11 million, and more research applications are already being reviewed for grants later this year.
Donate now to support St. Baldrick’s in this partnership.
Read more on the St. Baldrick’s blog: