Vivian Rosati vaguely remembers doctors telling her a small portion
of her son’s brain tumour would be sent to scientists working on a
cancer research project.
All she could think about was
10-year-old Jack in a hospital bed, his brain “dusted like icing sugar”
with malignant tumours that had spread down to the base of his spine.
“I thought, that’s all very good for future research, but how do we fix Jack? He needs treatment now,” Ms Rosati said.
“I didn’t realise this was the step that would save his life.”
Jack’s tumour tissue had become part of the Zero Childhood Cancer
project’s PRISM trial: a precision or ‘personalised’ medicine
initiative in which researchers analyse the genetic make-up of cancer
cells in search of targeted treatments tailored to each individual
“Children who come into this program are really at the end
of the line,” executive director of the Children’s Cancer Institute
Professor Michelle Haber said.
"They are the worst of the worst cases. This program gives hope where there was no hope before.”
Wednesday, billionaire miner Andrew Forrest and his wife Nicola
announced their philanthropic organisation the Minderoo Foundation will
donate $5 million to the Zero Childhood Cancer program.
donation will enable the program to double the number of children
enrolled in its trial and come closer to offering personalised medicine
to children diagnosed with deadly high-risk or relapsed cancer by 2020.
One in five children diagnosed with cancer in Australia will die, the equivalent of three children every week.
year about 200 children and adolescents in Australia are diagnosed with
cancers that are extremely difficult to treat and have a less than 30
per cent chance of survival.
No child, cancer or tumour are the
same. Their unique genomic and biological signatures are different, and
so are the drivers of malignant cancer cell growth when conventional
Finding these specific genetic markers, and
targeting them with the right drug for the right child at the right time
will be the key to reaching 100 per cent survival for childhood
cancers, Professor Haber said.
Jack was diagnosed with
ganglioglioma in February 2017. He underwent surgery to remove a mass
the size of a matchbox from his right temporal lobe.
Ganglioglioma rarely comes back, but Jack’s did, “with vengeance” a year later, Ms Rosati said.
deteriorated rapidly, undergoing multiple surgeries, chemotherapy,
blood transfusions and weekly lumbar punctures to drain the build-up of
fluid around his brain. He wasn’t responding to treatment, started
losing his sight, could not walk and was in excruciating pain.
see your son in that kind of pain … I try to blank it out but this is
too important,” Ms Rosati said. “I need to tell people how important
this Zero Childhood Cancer program is."
The PRISM trial discovered
Jack’s cancer had a gene mutation known as BRAF V600E which could
potentially be targeted with a combination of two drugs more commonly
used to treat melanoma in elderly patients.
He started taking the oral pills every 12 hours.
was miraculous,” Ms Rosati said. “At day 45 he was playing tennis and
racing around being almost his normal self. Everyone involved in the
program, and the wonderful people who donate: I can’t thank them enough,
and I want them to know it’s working.”
More than 200 children
have been enrolled in the trial. In more than 70 per cent of cases the
researchers were able to recommend personalised treatments.
The Minderoo donation will enable the trial to expand to 400 children.
vision of the Zero Childhood Cancer program is simple and inspiring:
reduce child cancer deaths to Zero,” Mr Forrest said. “As adults we have
the duty to protect and improve the lives of these children and
Minderoo is proud to partner with Zero to help realise this.”
Orginal source: https://www.msn.com/en-au/news/australia/the-plan-to-save-children-with-the-worst-of-the-worst-cancers/ar-AABlBO7?ocid=ARWLCHR#page=2