The St. Baldrick’s Foundation Pediatric Cancer Dream Team, a joint effort with the Stand Up To Cancer (SU2C) fundraising organization, will continue to develop new immunotherapy approaches to high-risk childhood cancers through an $8 million donation from the St. Baldrick’s Foundation.
The Pediatric Cancer Dream Team consists of more than 150 researchers in a collaboration from eight institutions. The program started in 2013 with a four-year, $14.5 million grant to find a cure for the most hard-to-treat childhood cancers, integrating genomics into the development of immunotherapies.
To have an even more effective impact on the $8 million gift, the eight institutions that make up the Dream Team have committed to matching the donation, leading to a total of $16 million.
“We are very pleased to be able to continue the work we began with funding from SU2C and St. Baldrick’s,” John M. Maris, MD, co-leader of the Pediatric Cancer Dream Team, said in a press release. “Continuing support from St. Baldrick’s will enable us to further capitalize on discoveries in the first four years with a more refined focus on developing novel immunotherapy clinical trials for children with high-risk cancers.”
Among other achievements:
- The Pediatric Cancer Dream Team found a way to manage some of the most severe complications of immunotherapy, such as cytokine release syndrome (CRS), caused by an overactive immune system. This work also led to the U.S. approval of Genentech’s Actemra (tocilizumab) for the treatment of chimeric antigen receptor T-cell (CAR T-cell)-induced CRS.
- Researchers also successfully developed a CD19 CAR T-cell therapy for B-cell acute lymphoblastic leukemia, contributing to two new drugs being approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for leukemia,
- The team launched more than 25 clinical trials, enrolling 700 patients, with promising results in relapsed acute lymphoblastic leukemia and solid cancers, including brain tumors.
- Researchers published more than 100 peer-reviewed manuscripts, came up with 16 new patents, and raised more than $50 million in additional research grants.
“The Dream Team has been at the forefront of genomic discovery and testing new treatment options to give kids with cancer the best chance at survival, with less long-term effects,” said Kathleen Ruddy, CEO of the St. Baldrick’s Foundation.
“Progress made by the Dream Team, especially in blood cancers, is already extraordinary, and we are excited to see them making headway also in solid tumors, to give hope to many more childhood cancer patients,” she said. “As the largest private funder of childhood cancer research grants, St. Baldrick’s is dedicated to supporting the best childhood cancer research, no matter where it is happening.
“The Dream Team funding has proven to be among the most impactful of the hundreds of grants we have funded. We look forward to seeing what this team will achieve in the next four years,” Ruddy added.
The partnership will focus more on the childhood cancers that are still uncured or untreated with therapies available today by seeking new pivotal studies. The goal is to see new clinical trials launched in the next four years, with funding contingent on continued success.
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