• Press Release
    • For Immediate Release


  • Media Contact:
    • Traci Shirk
    • 626.792.8247 ext. 50
    • traci@stbaldricks.org

$699,186 Awarded in Childhood Cancer Research Grants to The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia

Part of More than $22 million Awarded in New Grants by the St. Baldrick’s Foundation

PHILADELPHIA (August 6, 2013) – The St. Baldrick’s Foundation, a volunteer-driven and donor-centered charity dedicated to raising money for childhood cancer research, is proud to award a total of $699,186 in pediatric cancer research grants to support the work of three physician-researchers and one consortium at The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP).

Shannon Maude, M.D., Ph.D., received a $330,000 St. Baldrick’s Scholar award, for a period of three years, to support her project focused on finding new treatments for children with acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL), the most common childhood cancer. Fortunately, most children with ALL are cured; however, between 10 and 20 percent of children are not cured with standard chemotherapy. Recently, genetic tests identified abnormalities that may cause two types of ALL with poor survival rates. Dr. Maude’s lab developed models of these leukemias to ask if new medicines that work specifically on the abnormal genes can improve the chance for cure.

“The St. Baldrick’s Scholar award provides pivotal support in a young investigator’s career. I am very grateful to the St. Baldrick’s Foundation for enabling me to pursue a research career with the goal of finding new treatments for difficult to treat forms of ALL,” said Dr. Maude.
Michael Hogarty, M.D., associate professor of pediatrics, was awarded a one-year $110,000 St. Baldrick’s Research Grant to support his work on neuroblastoma. With prior funding from the St. Baldrick’s Foundation, Dr. Hogarty’s team discovered that some neuroblastomas have mutations in the ARID1A or ARID1B genes, and that these tumors are especially aggressive and difficult to cure. They are continuing to study this gene to gain insight into how the mutations affect cancer cells and identify new ways to treat neuroblastoma.

“The discovery of ARID1 genes as neuroblastoma tumor drivers was made with a generous investment by the St. Baldrick’s Foundation at a time when such large scale sequencing efforts were considered too risky. Now with this discovery in hand their ongoing support is helping us take this research to the next level, to understand better how the mutations are changing the behavior of the cancer cells,” said Dr. Hogarty.

Based on progress to date, Vandana Batra, M.D., was awarded a $134,186 extended St. Baldrick’s Fellow grant to fund an optional third year of her research project that also focuses on neuroblastoma. Studies have shown that a drug called 131I-MIBG that is designed to deliver radiation specifically to the cancer cells is effective in prolonging life, but not curing disease. Dr. Batra and her team are working to develop a smarter, more effective and less toxic radiation therapy that can be delivered into the blood stream so that it can reach any neuroblastoma cell anywhere in the body.

“Successful completion of this project funded by St Baldrick’s will help fill the void of novel therapeutic approaches and will ultimately lead to the incorporation of a new targeted radiotherapeutic 211At-MABG into frontline approaches to high-risk neuroblastoma therapy,” said Dr. Batra.

St. Baldrick’s also awarded an extended consortium grant, for a total of $125,000, to support the ongoing work of the Testicular Cryopreservation Consortium (TCC), led by CHOP. This collaborative group of scientists addresses the fact that young boys who receive life-saving cancer treatments before they reach puberty may have an extremely high risk of infertility as adults. The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia was the first hospital to offer patients and families the option of preserving the boys’ immature testicular tissue for possible future use in rescuing their fertility. This consortium, which includes Memorial Sloan Kettering and Seattle Children’s Hospital, is collecting testicular tissue samples to increase the amount of tissue available for research, in the hope of providing an option for fertility preservation to patients who currently have no options at all.

“We are so grateful that St. Baldrick’s has awarded us another year of funding,” said Dr. Jill Ginsberg, lead physician-scientist working at CHOP. “We are continuing to enroll patients at all three sites and we are sharing our protocol with other institutions nationally and internationally. We are hopeful that advances in the laboratory will make it possible for these boys to achieve fertility when they are ready to start a family. This work could not have been accomplished without the support of St. Baldrick’s Foundation.”

Through the vigorous efforts of volunteers and supporters in the U.S. and around the world, the Foundation is not only honored to award this local grant, but will fund a total of more than $22 million in its 2013 summer grant cycle.
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About St. Baldrick’s Foundation
The St. Baldrick’s Foundation is a volunteer-driven charity committed to funding the most promising research to find cures for childhood cancers and give survivors long and healthy lives. Since 2005, St. Baldrick’s has awarded more than $125 million to support lifesaving research, making the Foundation the largest private funder of childhood cancer research grants. St. Baldrick’s funds are granted to some of the most brilliant childhood cancer research experts in the world and to younger professionals who will be the experts of tomorrow. Funds awarded also enable hundreds of local institutions to participate in national pediatric cancer clinical trials. For more information about the St. Baldrick’s Foundation please call 1.888.899.BALD or visit www.StBaldricks.org.