WHERE THE MONEY GOES:
We are honored to be able to award research grants for targeted therapies to shut down the activators of childhood cancers. The way I describe targeted therapies is to compare them to dandelions in your yard. If you have dandelions, you don’t bring in an excavator to dig up your entire yard eight foot deep, you just buy weed killer, spray it, and kill only the dandelions while leaving the rest of the yard largely undisturbed. Targeted therapies work the same way. Chemotherapy and radiation are excavators and destroy healthy cells as well as cancer cells while targeted therapies kill mainly cancer cells and leave healthy tissue largely undisturbed. That is important because 2/3 of all childhood cancer patients have life long chronic health problems as a result of toxic therapies. Targeted therapies allow our children to live healthier and fuller lives after cancer.
We have a Research Review Board consisting of pediatric doctors and nurses that review research grants that are submitted to us for consideration. Each donor is allowed to select whether they would like for their dollars to remain local to fund local research at Children’s Mercy Hospital and KU Med Center. Those two institutions have partnered in the research arena to battle childhood cancers and are doing amazing work worthy of national recognition. Donors who choose for dollars to go to our national research efforts would be funding grants that would only be offered to the top four childhood cancer research institutions in the country. Those locatoins are The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, Dana Farber Cancer Institute, Texas Children’s and Cincinnati Children’s. Our research review board reads through the grants and then reviews the quality of the science to see which grants most closely match our mission. Those grants are funded. In addition, we have researchers from each of our applying institutions that serve on our Scientific Research Advisory Board. Those doctors advise us about research trends and pedagogy. We are fortunate to work with such high caliber researchers so we can fund the research that will give children the most hope for a future.
Since our inception four years ago, we have funded three research grants. Our first grant was awarded to Dr. Jason Shohet at Texas Children’s Hospital to find a specific stem cell that is believed to be an activator of neuroblastoma cancers. His work was designed to find that cell, learn what activates it, and then develop a treatment that would shut that cell activator down.
August of 2014, we awarded two grants. One was to Dr. Kathleen Neville at Children’s Mercy Hospital in conjunction with Dr. Giselle Sholler from Helen deVos Hospital in Grand Rapids, Michigan. This was a Phase One research trial with two targeted treatment drugs called DFMO and Velcade which are given to patients who have gone through neuroblastoma treatments in an attempt to keep them in remission as a high percentage of neuroblastoma patients relapse.
The second grant was awarded in 2014 was to Dr. Doug Myers from Children’s Mercy Hospital in partnership with Dr. Thomas Yankee at KU Medical Center. Their research focuses on all solid mass tumors and the grant title was Next generation chimeric antigen receptors for personalized anti-tumor therapy. Their work focuses on infusing donor cells from a relative that are “supercharged” into a childhood cancer patient. Those cells then target cancer cells to destroy them and teach the child’s own immune system to recognize the invading cancer cells and destroy them. This is the second phase of their work and the preliminary results from the first phase of their work were extremely promising.
In September of 2015, we awarded two local grants. One was to Dr. Kathleen Chastain from Children’s Mercy Hospital in conjunction with Dr. Shrikant Anant at KU Medical Center for rhabdomyosarcoma research. The amount of that grant was $193,700.
The second grant totaling $100,000 was awarded to Dr. Andrew Godwin from KU Medical Center in conjunction with Dr. Kathleen Chastain of Children’s Mercy Hospital for work in the area of Ewings Sarcoma.
September of 2016, we awarded $600,000 to three studies.
A two-year, $200,000 study to Dr. Andrew Godwin and Dr. Glenson Samuel at KU Medical Center for Ewings Sarcoma research. The study is "Exosome miRNAs as biomarkers and targets for chemoresistance in Ewing Sarcoma".
A two year, $300,000 study to Dr. Shrikant Anant from KU Medical Center and Dr. Kathleen Chastain from Children's Mercy Hospital for "Sarcoma in a Dish: a novel approach for precision medicine". This study seeks to find answers for Rhabdomyosarcoma cancers in children.
A one year $100,000 study to Dr. Yael Mosse, titled "Immunotherapeutic Strategies to Target ALK on the Cell Surface of High Risk Neuroblastoma". This study addresses high risk neuroblastoma and is a precision medicine approach to treating this deadly disease.