PRISM Trial for Children with Cancer - Children’s Cancer Foundation

The collaboration of Children’s Cancer Foundation & the PRISM Clinical Trial in fighting the early onset of cancer in children.

The Children's Cancer Foundation is providing funding to Sydney Children's Hospitals Foundation for the national coordination of a ground-breaking study. The PRISM clinical trial aims to discover whether unique personalised tumour profiling can provide an effective new approach to the treatment of young patients who face the most aggressive cancers. 

The study will analyse and evaluate information generated from Zero Childhood Cancer, which is focussed on finding new approaches for children and young people with cancers who have a less than 30% chance of survival.

Delivering more effective treatment plans

It involves the detailed analysis of each child’s unique cancer cells in the laboratory, to help identify the drugs most likely to kill their specific cancer. Scientists and doctors then work collaboratively to identify the causes of cancer in children and deliver the most effective treatment plan, specifically tailored to suit each child’s individual disease.

The program, which began in 2016, is generating a wealth of new data and there are opportunities now to evaluate the overall impact and effectiveness of the personalised therapy approach. The aim is to see whether it provides a feasible new alternative treatment for children with the highest risk cancers.

The program is a truly national effort with collaborations from scientists and clinicians across Australia. The Children's Cancer Foundation for instance funds Dr Dong Ahn Khuong Quang who is a senior member of the Zero program genomic analysis team.

Coordinating scientists from around the country

However, coordinating all this information at a national level is a significant challenge and the Children’s Cancer Foundation has stepped in to support this work by funding a clinical trial coordinator based at Sydney Children’s Hospital, Randwick.

“On the basic level we want to see how personalised therapy changes treatment and outcomes for children,” said Associate Professor David Ziegler, who is leading the clinical trial.

“There’s a huge team of scientists in laboratories around the country that look at this data and the results are taken to a national tumour board where we discuss the results at a national level and put it all together to provide a treatment recommendation for the child.”


“That report goes back to the clinicians and they decide in discussion with the family how to use that information. And that’s something we’re studying in this trial - how that information is used,” he said. “Do they get access to the recommended treatment? Where do they get access to the treatment? If they don’t get it, why don’t they get it? Do we need to work on getting better access for drugs for children?”

The trial will also carry out interviews with patients and their families living with cancer to find out how useful this process has been for them, what impact it’s had on them and how it can be improved.

“So this will give us a lot of information, which will help us to understand other hurdles and obstacles we may need to overcome,” A/Prof. Ziegler said.

A/Prof. Ziegler said that without the funding from the Children’s Cancer Foundation, this important evaluation work could not happen. “It’s really providing that critical resource, that critical infrastructure that allows us to do this – and most importantly to coordinate it around Australia,” he said.

“People may have a perception that funding for childhood cancer research funding will just happen but that’s really not the case.

The support from the Children’s Cancer Foundation helps fund the cutting-edge treatment and technology needed to run this trial.”

Already there are very encouraging signs of success from the program. “We’re finding changes in their tumours that makes a difference – in some cases we’re finding changes in the diagnosis that then affects the treatment, and we’re finding genetic changes that in some cases can be targeted with potent new drugs. Already we’re seeing that it’s changing outcomes.”


If you would like to support Childrens Cancer Foundation and the Prism clinical trial in their cancer research for children please donate today.


PRISM Clinical Trial Children's Cancer Foundation