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More support to beat childhood cancers

Posted on 01/05/2017 8:30am

VANCOUVER - The Province today announced $2 million to the Michael Cuccione Foundation to support new advances in research at Michael Cuccione Childhood Cancer Research program at BC Children's Hospital.

"The work of the foundation is tireless, and we're right behind them providing funding and support to ensure a better approach to childhood cancers," said Linda Reimer, MLA for Port Moody-Coquitlam on behalf of Health Minister Terry Lake. "My hope is that with today's funding, we start seeing great breakthroughs with CAR-T cell therapy and even more improvements in child health."

This funding adds to the $100,000 announced in December 2016 and $2 million provided by the Province to the Michael Cuccione Foundation in 2012. The foundation will use the funds to expand access for B.C. children with leukemia to clinical trials for the specialized cancer treatment CAR-T cell therapy. CAR-T is an innovative approach that uses a patient's own immune cells to combat their cancer, and has resulted in a dramatic and positive response in killing certain types of cancer cells. This research will be conducted by the Michael Cuccione Childhood Cancer Research program at BC Children's Hospital.

The research program focuses on continuing clinical trials and childhood-cancer research activities, including better understanding childhood cancers and seeking new therapies with lower side-effects for young patients.

"Although researchers have made tremendous advances in the treatment of childhood cancer over the past 20 years, it still is the leading cause of death in disease of children. For that reason we must continue to do all we can to support childhood-cancer research. The Michael Cuccione Foundation is forever grateful for the support from the Government of British Columbia and for the recognition that children battling cancer need our help," said Gloria
Cuccione, Michael's mother and foundation executive director.

Founded in 1997, the Michael Cuccione Foundation raises funds for childhood-cancer research. The foundation also offers emotional support to cancer patients and their families, and conducts motivational speaking engagements throughout Canada and around the world. The foundation was established by Michael Cuccione who was diagnosed with Hodgkin lymphoma at the age of nine. A singer, songwriter, dancer, actor and motivational speaker, Michael used his own experiences with cancer to challenge and inspire others to make a difference. Michael overcame cancer, but died in 2001 at age 16 from respiratory failure related to his cancer treatments.

Approximately 10,000 children are living with cancer in Canada today, and more than 140 children under the age of 17 in British Columbia are diagnosed every year. Fortunately, children with cancer have a better chance of living a longer life than ever before, and there has been a steady decline in the mortality rate for childhood cancer over the last 20 years.

Advances in technology lead to much more personalized and effective health care. Through the #BCTECH Strategy and support for organizations like Genome BC, the Michael Smith Foundation for Health Research, the BC Cancer Foundation, BC Cancer Agency, BC Children's Hospital Foundation, and the Michael Cuccione Foundation, the province continues to attract and retain talented researchers to work in B.C. to help improve care for patients and save lives.

Learn More:

The Michael Cuccione Foundation: www.childhoodcancerresearch.org/
The #BCTECH Strategy: bctechstrategy.gov.bc.ca/

Media Contact:
Ministry of Health Communications
250 952-1887 (media line)

Connect with the Province of B.C. at: www.gov.bc.ca/connect