For kids diagnosed with a rare and fatal type of brain tumor called DIPG, or diffuse intrinsic pontine glioma, there is no cure and treatments are heartbreakingly scarce. St. Baldrick’s researcher Dr. Mark Souweidane is on a mission to change the bleak statistics on DIPG survival. Learn about his groundbreaking work so far and what’s coming next.
BREAKING NEWS: The promising results of Dr. Souweidane’s groundbreaking research have just been published in the peer-reviewed journal Lancet Oncology! Supported by St. Baldrick’s, this Phase 1 clinical trial involved the injection of a cancer-fighting drug directly into the tumors of children with DIPG. There were exciting results — no serious side effects or dose-limiting toxicities were observed in the kids who participated, which means that the therapy has been deemed safe for use in pediatric patients. Thanks to St. Baldrick’s support, this promising trial will now expand to multiple institutions, giving hope to kids with this currently incurable, fatal tumor and to their families.
DIPG life expectancy is devastatingly short — with many kids dying within two years of diagnosis. Dr. Mark Souweidane wants to change that.
For kids with DIPG, treatment with radiation just lets them live a little while longer. Traditional chemo doesn’t work because of the blood-brain barrier. Tumor removal with surgery is out of the question, because the cancer is intertwined with the delicate tissues of the brainstem, which regulates breathing and other vital functions.
So, what does a doctor working on DIPG do to help these kids?
With its recent commitment of $500,000 for the Target Pediatric AML initiative, the St. Baldrick’s Foundation adds another chapter to its long story of support for innovative and impactful research in childhood acute myeloid leukemia (AML).
While great progress has been made over many decades to help children survive the most common childhood cancer – acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL) – the same has not held true for children with AML.
St. Baldrick’s is helping change that.
McKenna Claire was 7 years old when she was diagnosed with a rare brain tumor called DIPG. The McKenna Claire Foundation was established in her memory and in 2013, St. Baldrick’s partnered with the McKenna Claire Foundation to fund DIPG research, like the work done by Dr. Rameen Beroukhim at the Dana Farber Cancer Institute.
Honored Kid McKenna Claire was bright, spirited, and loved soccer and gymnastics. McKenna was full of grace, joy and grit through it all, even as her childhood cancer progressed and she could no longer run across a soccer field, jump on a trampoline, talk or swallow. She died just six months after her diagnosis with a rare, fatal type of brain tumor called DIPG – weeks before her birthday. She would have been 8 years old.
Stories like this are why St. Baldrick’s researcher Dr. Rameen Beroukhim studies DIPG, otherwise known as diffuse intrinsic pontine glioma. In fact, McKenna’s photograph hangs in his lab.
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 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.
Kids are special, and childhood cancers are different than adult cancers. That’s why we’re funding research to find new therapies and cures just for kids.
We asked our researchers, “In the last 10 years, what’s been the greatest achievement in the field of pediatric cancer research?”
Here’s what they had to say.
Dr. Dan Wechsler is one really busy — and sometimes bald — pediatric oncologist. Read on for more about this hardworking St. Baldrick’s researcher and everything he’s doing to help kids with cancer.
Dr. Dan Wechsler goes under the clippers with a little help from a friend.
Dr. Dan Wechsler admits that he doesn’t get much sleep.
Working at Duke University Medical Center as chief of pediatric hematology-oncology, Dr. Wechsler is also a St. Baldrick’s-funded researcher, a six-time shavee, a grant mentor, an event speaker, and a grant reviewer with the St. Baldrick’s Scientific Advisory Committee.
St. Baldrick’s researcher Dr. Brodeur knows that tiny things can have a big impact on cancer. He studies nanoparticles and how they can be used to deliver cancer-fighting drugs to tumors, without hurting healthy cells. Read on to learn more.
Good things can come in small packages — really, really small packages.
Nanoparticles are teeny, tiny particles. How tiny? You could fit about one million nanoparticles in the period on the end of this sentence. St. Baldrick’s researcher Dr. Garrett Brodeur is studying how these tiny lab-created particles can be used to help kids with cancer.
We have some big news that will have you jumping through the sprinkler with joy.
Summer has arrived and so have St. Baldrick’s Summer Grants!
Today we are awarding a whopping $21.2 million in new research grants to scientists across the globe. That’s 70 grants in 48 states and 11 countries, going to researchers making incredible gains in the fight against childhood cancer.
We’ve got some spectacular news. Really, really big news.
In the last 20 years, only two new drugs have been approved that were specifically developed to treat children with cancer.
Yesterday, that changed. Now there are three.
You can give hope to children with cancer. Get involved.
Dr. Todd Alonzo was an esteemed statistician with the Children’s Oncology Group (COG) in 2003 when the first California St. Baldrick’s events were held. He was well respected by his colleagues in the childhood cancer research arena for his expertise and knowledge.
But what would inspire this distinguished researcher to shave half his head in Southern California, fly half-shorn to Sacramento, and shave the other half there?A brother who dyed his hair green! And a challenge to see who could raise more money for an incredible cause.
Older Posts »