(SOUTHEAST Ga.) CURE Childhood Cancer, the only organization providing financial and emotional support to local children and families while raising funds to further critical research specifically for childhood cancer treatments, recently disbursed $4.7 million in research grants for its 2021-2022 fiscal year. Of this total, more than $700,000 was raised in Southeast Georgia. This brings CURE’s total investment in research over the last 12 years to more than $38 million.
“We are so pleased and proud that CURE is providing such a high level of support to very promising research this year,” said Kristin Connor, CEO of CURE Childhood Cancer. “We are urgently focused on new treatments for children with high-risk, difficult-to-treat cancers that currently lack effective treatments. Virtually all our grants this year aim to do that, which gives me so much hope for these children.”
The grants are being awarded to top scientists at leading pediatric cancer research institutions across the nation and represent CURE’s highest disbursement in a single grant cycle.
“Our ultimate goal is to ensure all children with cancer have the opportunity to survive and thrive long after cancer,” continued Connor. “Less than 4 percent of government funding for cancer research goes to looking at cancers which affect children, and drugs given today to most children with cancer are the same drugs given 40 years ago. CURE is urgently working to get new therapies to children and our grants are focused on making that happen.”
More than $700,000 in Donations Collected in Southeast Georgia
In Southeast Georgia, “Catie’s Gatherings” fundraisers were held in Savannah, Statesboro, Bryan County and Effingham County, garnering $603,000 for CURE. The funds raised at these five inspirational events are earmarked for the Precision Medicine Program at the Aflac Cancer and Blood Disorders Center at Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta, which received a total of $1.5 million in grants from CURE. The Precision Medicine Program leverages genomic sequencing for pediatric patients with high-risk tumors with the goal of identifying alterations that can impact therapies and improve outcomes. Their team is also developing novel, cutting-edge research approaches to enhance the safety and efficacy of personalized medical treatments.
CURE’s funding decisions are guided by its Peer Review Committee, a group of practicing oncologists and academic scientists who conduct a rigorous review of each proposal to assess both scientific merit and alignment with CURE’s goals. Of those proposals, CURE selected to fund 18 studies, most of which offer hope of testing more effective treatments for childhood cancers with poor prognoses within two to three years.
“Using their collective expertise in research and the clinical care of children with cancer, the committee selected the most productive investigators and innovative research projects through a national competition submitted in March 2022,” said William C. Phelps, Ph.D., leader of CURE’s Scientific Advisory Council. “Independent, comprehensive, and confidential peer review ensures that CURE’s investments in research are focused on those projects most likely to significantly improve outcomes for children with cancer.”
CURE’s 2022 Pediatric Cancer Research Initiative includes the studies listed below:
Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta/Emory University
- Aflac Precision Medicine Program
- Christopher Porter, MD, B-cell leukemia – Targeting mechanisms of T-cell suppression mediated by siglec15
- Sunil Sudhir Raikar, MD, acute myeloid leukemia – Optimizing gamma delta T-cell immunotherapy for acute myeloid leukemia
- Tobey MacDonald, MD, high-risk brain tumor – Two-year grant for clinical investigation of cluster-wells in pediatric brain tumors
- Robert Castellino, MD, medulloblastoma – Combined molecular targeting to enhance therapy for Group 3 medulloblastoma
- Renee Read, Ph.D., high-grade glioma – Human Organoid models of pediatric high-grade gliomas
- Muxiang Zhou, MD, acute myeloid leukemia – Feasibility study of VERU-111 for precision treatment of pediatric AML
- Full funding of 3 fellowships
- Dr. Frank Chien
- Dr. Robert Lisac (Sam Robb Fellow)
- Dr. Sanyu Janardan (Connolly Family Fellow)
Beckman Research Institute of City of Hope
- Ling Li, Ph.D., acute myeloid leukemia – Targeting PRMT1 elicits anti-tumor immunity in childhood leukemia
- Qiang Lu, Ph.D., medulloblastoma – Developing inhibitors of mitotic kinesin KIF20A for brain tumor treatment
Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia
- Vinodh Pillai, MD, Ph.D., B-cell leukemia – Assessment of bone marrow to predict response to CAR T-cell therapy
- Timothy Olson, MD, Ph.D., Genetic research – Targeting niche inflammation and MSC cell fate in monosomy 7 predispositions
- Michael Chorny, Ph.D., neuroblastoma – macromolecular prodrug-based therapy for indolent neuroblastoma
Seattle Children’s Hospital
- Elizabeth Lawlor, MD, Ph.D., Ewing sarcoma – Optimizing safety and efficacy of anthracyclines in Ewing sarcoma
Rainbow Babies and Children’s Hospital (Cleveland)
- John Letterio, MD, diffuse intrinsic pontine glioma – Development of a CNS-penetrant synthetic oleanane triterpenoid for DIPG
- Jignesh Tailor, Ph.D., medulloblastoma – Discovery of synthetic lethal targets in MYCN neuroepithelial stem cells
University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio
- Raushan Kurmasheva, Ph.D., rhabdoid tumor therapy – PEGylated talazoparib for pediatric malignant rhabdoid tumor therapy
- Jia-Ray Yu, Ph.D., diffuse intrinsic pontine glioma – Pharmacological screening of a new class of NSD1 inhibitor
Washington University in St. Louis
- Jason Weber, Ph.D., diffuse intrinsic pontine glioma – Development of a p14ARF-based therapies to treat CDKN2A-deficient pediatric cancers
Fundraising efforts for the 2022-2023 fiscal year research grants are currently underway. Grant applications are expected to be open in January 2023.
About CURE Childhood Cancer
Founded in 1975, CURE Childhood Cancer is dedicated to conquering childhood cancer through funding targeted research while supporting patients and their families. With cancer as the second leading cause of death in children, CURE has dedicated more than $38MM over the past 12 years to specific research projects aimed at curing cancers that affect children. CURE is headquartered in Atlanta and has a staff of six in Savannah. It is the only organization providing this level of financial and emotional support to local children and families across Georgia and parts of South Carolina. For more information, visit www.curechildhoodcancer.org.