Leading fight against childhood brain cancer

A new center, backed by the Victorian government, is leading the country’s efforts to fight brain cancer and bring new hope to patients and their families.

Brain cancer kills more children in Australia than any other disease and has the lowest survival rates of nearly all cancers, with four in five patients dying within five years of diagnosis.

The Brain Cancer Center will forge new frontiers in brain cancer research with the aim of significantly improving treatments and outcomes for patients now and for generations to come.

Founded by Carrie’s Beanies 4 Brain Cancer and established in partnership with WEHI, the Brain Cancer Center has an initial funding commitment of $40 million, including a $16 million investment from the Victorian government.

The center includes research collaborations between WEHI, Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre, Royal Melbourne Hospital, The Royal Children’s Hospital, Murdoch Children’s Research Institute (MCRI), Monash University, the University of Queensland and the Victorian Comprehensive Cancer Center.

The multidisciplinary team of experts, including MCRI professor David Eisenstat and associate professor Jordan Hansford, will focus on new brain cancer discoveries and aim to make rapid progress in brain cancer diagnosis and treatment.

“In collaboration with WEHI Associate Professor Misty Jenkins, we are leading the Immunotherapy group within The Brain Cancer Center to identify novel CAR-T therapies (a form of immunotherapy that uses part of the immune system to fight cancer) for children and adult brain cancer,” said associate professor Hansford.

Victorian government funding will also help realize the Brain Perioperative Clinical Trial Program (Brain-POP) within the Brain Cancer Center to improve diagnosis and outcomes for pediatric, adolescent and adult patients.

“As a broader group led by Professor Mark Rosenthal, Professor Kate Drummond and Dr Jim Whittle, we will use new clinical trials to preoperatively deliver drugs in the early phase to better understand how these drugs affect tumors,” said University of Applied Sciences. Professor Hansford.

Professor Eisenstat said the team was investigating a number of brain tumors that have very poor outcomes and need new therapeutic approaches.

“Our research aims to identify novel proteins involved in cancer cell growth and survival, allowing us to design novel therapies,” he said.

“Brain-POP will enable small studies in children with brain cancer who have relapsed to better assess whether new or reused drugs can reach the tumor when the surgeon operates.”

Professor Eisenstat said the trial would last four years and offer hope to children diagnosed with brain cancer, especially those with the worst prognosis.

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