St. Baldrick’s Scholars Dr. Alex Huang and Dr. Agne Petrosiute are studying how switching off a protein could lead to new treatments and cures for kids with brain tumors. Read on for more about their unexpected discovery, its implications for immunotherapy, and why Dr. Huang compares himself to those fuzzy little bears in Star Wars.
Dr. Agne Petrosiute (left) and Dr. Alex Huang study how the immune system can be harnessed to fight pediatric brain cancer.
Dr. Alex Huang likens himself and his colleague, Dr. Agne Petrosiute, to Ewoks battling the Death Star.
“We are the Ewoks that found the controller on this planet, and all of a sudden the Death Star cannot put up the shield anymore,” he said. “And so now, Luke Skywalker can go in there and blow it up.”
It may seem like a curious explanation, but it fits.
Every day, Dr. Jessica Pollard harnesses her love of science and her passion for research to fight for kids with AML. Read on for more about the longtime St. Baldrick’s Scholar and what she’s doing to give kids with cancer the childhoods they deserve.
St. Baldrick’s Scholar Dr. Jessica Pollard does research on AML, one of the most common childhood cancers.
Dr. Jessica Pollard is all about analyzing prognostic factors. It floats her boat and puts the pep in her step. In fact, sometimes she burns the midnight oil doing just that.
But what exactly is this analyzing prognostic factor business that she likes so much?
In plain English, it’s examining certain things about a patient that can help tell her whether a person will recover from their cancer or relapse.
“My husband thinks I’m a geek, but you know, it keeps me going,” Dr. Pollard said.
Her geekery also saves lives.
From MRIs to CT scans, kids with brain cancer get pictures taken of their tumors all the time. St. Baldrick’s Scholar Dr. Peter de Blank wants to get more out of those pictures, so that all children can lead long, healthy lives. Read on for more about this St. Baldrick’s Scholar and the exciting work he’s doing with a new imaging technology.
Getting scans done is a routine part of life for a kid with cancer, like 2013 Ambassador Emily. Dr. Peter de Blank wants to use new technology to get more out of scans like these.
For Dr. Peter de Blank, a picture is not only worth a thousand words — a picture can save a life.
As a St. Baldrick’s Scholar at Case Western Reserve University, Dr. de Blank is studying how a new radiographic tool, called magnetic resonance fingerprinting, or MRF, might improve outcomes for kids with cancer.
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.
What is neuroblastoma?
Neuroblastoma is a type of childhood cancer that develops in nerve tissue outside of the central nervous system. It usually begins in the adrenal gland on top of the kidney, but it can be found anywhere along the spine.
What is acute lymphoblastic leukemia?
Acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL) is a cancer of the white blood cells that normally fight infection. The cells do not grow and develop properly, filling up the bone marrow inside bones, where blood is normally made.
ALL is the most common type of childhood cancer, accounting for 35% of all cancers in children. Each year, there are about 2,900 new cases of children and adolescents diagnosed with ALL in the United States alone.
Learn more about childhood cancer >
Its signs and symptoms resemble other common illnesses, which often leads to other treatments before the leukemia diagnosis is made.
“Our son would not be with us today if it weren’t for St. Baldrick’s,” says Phineas’ dad, Carlos. Read on to see how research saved the little boy’s life.
NEW VIDEO: Phineas’ Story >
On a recent mountain bike ride with a friend, 7-year-old Phineas was sailing along when he decided to take a risk and pedal over a bridge not meant for bicycle traffic. He wiped out in a big way.
But without so much as a single tear, he picked himself up, dusted himself off, and got back on the bike.
Compared to what this boy had been through two years before, that was nothing.
Just mentioning herpes might make some people a little nervous, but in this story, herpes is the good guy. Read on for more about St. Baldrick’s Scholar Dr. Gregory Friedman’s work on a genetically altered version of the virus that could be the next targeted therapy for kids with brain tumors.
Dr. Friedman smiles with a young patient in an exam room at Children’s of Alabama.
St. Baldrick’s Scholar Dr. Gregory Friedman discovered that the herpes simplex virus, with a few modifications, will kill pediatric brain cancer cells — without causing cold sores.
1. Over 80% of children diagnosed with cancer will be cured, joining the growing population of long-term childhood cancer survivors.
Thanks to advances in chemotherapy, radiation and surgical techniques, more children are being cured of cancer every year. Today there are over 350,000 survivors of childhood cancer in the United States. While this is truly excellent news, even modern treatments can have long-term consequences.
St. Baldrick’s Scholar Dr. Oren Becher is working to decrypt one of the most deadly and least understood childhood cancers — DIPG, or diffuse intrinsic pontine glioma. Thanks to diligent and brilliant work in the labs of research greats and a boost from St. Baldrick’s, Dr. Becher now has his own lab and his own team team dedicated to DIPG research. Together they’re determined to make a difference for kids with this currently incurable brain cancer.
Dr. Oren Becher recently moved to his own lab, where he studies DIPG in an effort to find a treatment for the deadly brain cancer.
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