A brighter future for kids with cancer
Every child who is diagnosed with cancer in British Columbia has their treatment plan developed by experts in pediatric oncology at BC Children’s Hospital.
Unfortunately, some of these kids face a difficult fight against rare or tough-to-cure cancers. Of the 130 BC kids diagnoses with cancer every year, one in five will not survive.
Like each child it affects, childhood cancers are unique and every experience is different. Researchers are increasingly taking a personalized approach to treatment. As home to the Michael Cuccione Childhood Cancer Research Program (MCCCRP), one of the leading oncology research programs in the world, BC Children’s is well poised to leverage this personalized approach to improve the odds for the 20 per cent of kids with hard-to-cure cancers.
The dedicated researchers in the MCCCRP are conducting groundbreaking studies, and developing life-saving clinical therapies for children battling cancer. By pushing the boundaries of what’s possible, scientists are able to find the best treatment options with the fewest possible adverse effects and complications. All through donor support.
Research and innovation
With the significant advancements that have been made in oncology care over the last 25 years, researchers have more knowledge and technology available to them to develop highly personalized treatments for patients battling cancer. Dr. Rebecca Deyell, Pediatric Oncologist and Hematologist and Investigator at BC Children’s Hospital and Research Institute, and her team launched 16 early phase clinical trials in the past year, offering new therapy options for children with relapsed leukemia, hard-to-treat solid tumours and brain tumours.
Significant multi-year research studies have also continued to advance this past year due to donor support. Progress continues to be made on the Canada-wide Precision Oncology for Young People (PROFYLE) initiative, finding new, targeted treatments by profiling the tumours of kids who don’t respond to standard therapies. There are currently 60 kids in BC who have been enrolled in PROFYLE to date.
The Better Response through Avatomic Evidence (BRAvE) initiative is making outstanding progress. Before a promising new treatment can be given to a child to fight their cancer, years or even decades of research must be done to ensure it is both safe and effective. The BRAvE team has built a leading precision preclinical test platform, which aims to uncover new precision therapies and help researchers understand the biology of childhood cancers in order to prevent relapse and prepare a treatment plan that has been tested in the lab, before relapse occurs.
Finally, immunotherapies like CAR T-cell therapy have shown significant promise with certain relapsed leukemia, lymphoma and other blood cancers. CAR T-cell therapy uses a patient’s own immune system to target and eliminate certain hard-to-treat cancers. During therapy, a patient’s T-cells are modified to recognize and kill leukemia cells. To date, six patients at BC Children’s Hospital have been treated with CAR T-cell therapy.
“The research we do in childhood cancer is transformative and groundbreaking, and the only way that it can happen
– DR. KIRK SCHULTZ, PEDIATRIC ONCOLOGIST/HEMATOLOGIST, BC CHILDREN’S HOSPITAL
The answer is in
Survival rates among children with cancer have dramatically improved over the decades. Despite increased chances of survival, 75 per cent of all kids with cancer experience side effects, some life-threatening or long-lasting, caused by the medications used during cancer treatment.
Dr. Rod Rassekh, Investigator, Michael Cuccione Childhood Cancer Research Program at BC Children’s Hospital is leading the progress in pharmacogenomics, the study of how differences in every person’s genetic makeup affect their response to certain medications. This emerging area of study helps to explain why one child treated may respond well to therapy, while another patient taking the very same medication may develop a life-threatening adverse action.
This research provides information to help oncology experts at BC Children’s understand the potential harmful side effects of therapeutic drugs. By gaining a better understanding of the patient’s genetic makeup, oncologists can better predict and prevent potentially devastating short- and long-term side effects.
Donors driving innovation
Through the support of compassionate and generous donors, the dedicated experts at BC Children’s are driving innovations and allowing more kids to not only survive, but live the fullest lives possible. We would like to recognize the incredible leadership of our donors, including Donald’s Fine Foods, Donald and Julia Leung, the Jansen Family, the Michael Cuccione Foundation and RBC.
In addition, we would like to recognize the generosity of the guests who attended the 35th Annual Crystal Ball, including:
Paul Balfour and Cynthia Miles
The Dilawri Foundation
The Djavad Mowafaghian Foundation
The Greczmiel family
The Hudson family
The Ilich family
Asa and Kashmir Johal and Family
Desha and Suki Sekhon
Lawrence and Sandi Thiessen and family
The Wesik family