Liam with Kelly Clickner, RN, CCRC Clinical Research Associate at Albany Medical Center.
By Dr. Vikramjit Kanwar, pediatric oncologist and St. Baldrick’s infrastructure grant recipient
When Liam was born, he appeared to be a healthy baby. He spit up a little more often than expected, but neither of his parents were worried until he began vomiting almost continuously. They took him to the ER at Albany Medical Center and a CT scan showed his liver riddled with tumor.
St. Baldrick’s researcher Dr. Alice Yu is developing a new immunotherapy treatment for kids with neuroblastoma.
For many years, doctors had only three ways to treat most cancers: surgery, radiation, and chemotherapy. A newer weapon in the fight against cancer is immunotherapy, harnessing the power of the immune system to attack cancer cells.
St. Baldrick’s donations helped fund research that has resulted in the first successful immunotherapy treatment for a childhood cancer, high-risk neuroblastoma.
Neuroblastoma is a cancer of the sympathetic nervous system. The average age of diagnosis is 2, and it’s rare in children over 10 years old.
Most patients have the high-risk form of the disease, and for years, only 1 in 3 of these children survived. With this new treatment, almost half may survive!
Supporters of the St. Baldrick’s Foundation have made a huge difference for kids fighting cancer. Here is one example of how you are helping to save lives.
For many years, doctors had only three ways to treat most cancers: surgery, radiation, and chemotherapy. A newer weapon in the fight against cancer is immunotherapy – harnessing the power of the immune system to attack cancer cells.
St. Baldrick’s donations helped fund research that has resulted in the first successful immunotherapy for a childhood cancer – high-risk neuroblastoma.
Here are a few of the major accomplishments in childhood cancer research that have been supported by the St. Baldrick’s Foundation – through grants made to researchers at hundreds of institutions, and through the more than $33 million granted since 2005 to the Children’s Oncology Group for cooperative research.
In 2011, research grant funding from the national level reached the lowest point in history, with only 4% of all federal cancer research funding dedicated to childhood cancer research. Even the slightest decrease in funding has great impact.
The National Institute of Health (NIH) reported that grant success rates, the percentage of reviewed applications that receive funding, is now at 18%. ScienceInsider states that “the new low reflects the fact that in 2011, Congress cut 1% from NIH’s $31 billion budget – only the second reduction since 1970.” The highest grant success rate was 32% in 1999-2003. Although many of the grant applications offered promising research opportunities, budget cuts continue to limit the overall amount of research that the NIH can support. As a result, research that could lead to improved cancer survival rates and treatment advances will be delayed or never reach its full potential.
The St. Baldrick’s Foundation held its second Research Priorities Summit in New York, the weekend of January 7-8, 2012. Nineteen distinguished childhood cancer research experts attended, volunteering their time and expertise to advise the Foundation’s board and grants staff on funding priorities.
The Summit was co-moderated by two nationally recognized leaders in pediatric oncology, William Carroll, M.D. of New York University and Holcombe Grier, M.D. of Dana-Farber Cancer Institute.
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