Clinical Research

Brilliant minds are working hard to find a cure for cancer. The Children’s Cancer Foundation has prioritised clinical research and clinical trials – these are key to developing new and kinder treatments. Recent advances in genomic techniques are driving the development of treatment programs customised to the individual child based on the characteristics of their personal cancer (or the molecular and genetic disruptions that have occurred in their bodies). Through genomic analysis researchers can understand the characteristics of individual cancers, define how these respond to different forms of treatment, and design a targetted treatment for that child.

Multiple new cancer drugs are emerging for adults, many of which are relevant to childhood cancer. A clinical trial, considered by hospitals as ‘research‘, is the first opportunity for a child to be treated with a new cancer drug. Hospitals do not fund clinical trial research and the cost of these trials, such as staff salaries, is funded almost exclusively by philanthropy. The Foundation has supported hospital staffing and trial costs since 2008, enabling children to access critical clinical trial treatments.

A complete list of our project funding is available here. Below are some examples of clinical research we are currently funding:

Precision Medicine:

The Hudson Monash Paediatric Precision Medicine Program is Australia’s first paediatric living organoid and functional genomic program utilising individual patient’s tumour cells to identify new therapeutic targets and repurpose existing targets. Research into brain cancer, central nervous system tumours and Wilm’s tumour will lay the foundation for establishing a systematic pipeline to test and identify personalised cancer therapeutics for paediatric cancer patients with the greatest unmet clinical need. The key outcome of this $1.3 million invesetment will be proof of concept functional diagnostic screens based on each cancer’s unique genetic profile using paediatric organoid models. Successful completion of this pilot phase will lead to integration of comprehensive molecular analysis into clinical management by guiding molecular-targeted therapeutics for cancer patients.

Immunotherapy clinical trial:

For years, the only methods of treating cancer were surgery, chemotherapy or radiation therapy. Recently, treatments have evolved towards targeted immunotherapies – therapy that utilises the patient’s own immune system to combat cancer. Lymphocytes are withdrawn from a patient, re-engineered to boost their tumour-fighting ability, and then re-infused in the patient. Treatments using these genetically engineered immune cells have generated remarkable responses. In 2016, The Royal Children’s Hospital opened an immunotherapy trial for relapsed acute lymphoblastic leukaemia patients, available outside of the US for the first time. The Children's Cancer Foundation funded critical staff resources for the trial.

AProf Paul Ekert.JPG
A/Prof. Paul Ekert, Head of Molecular Diagnostics at The Royal Children’s Hospital / Murdoch Children’s Research Institute. Dr Ekert’s extensive research program of molecular diagnostics is funded by the Foundation, with support from Steven Walter Children’s Cancer Foundation.