In May 2011, Nick Wolf was experiencing a persistent headache and nausea. His mother, Christina, took him to the doctor who informed them that she suspected Nick had a brain tumor, but that they should monitor his symptoms to see if they persisted. The headaches and nausea continued and one day Nick started uncontrollably clenching and unclenching his hand. His mom took him back to the doctor, and an MRIwas ordered.
The family tried to schedule an MRI, but were told that they would have to wait several days for the procedure. When Nick’s pain became unbearable, they rushed him to the hospital where their worst fears were confirmed. Nick had a 5cm Primitive Neuroectodermal tumor (PNET) on the right side of his brain that would require surgery, radiation, and chemotherapy. The family prepared for surgery and the months of treatment that would follow. Luckily, their surgeon was able to remove the tumor completely, significantly increasing Nick’s chance for beating cancer.
After the surgery Nick was discharged from the hospital to recover before starting radiation and chemotherapy. When Nick went home, he was too weak to walk unassisted, but was determined to get stronger before treatment started. He began playing Wii Fit to help regain his strength and within a few weeks, he was walking on his own.
A research team at Stanford University led by Drs. Kathleen Sakamoto and Irv Weissman has received a $1.37 million grant from CureSearch titled “Development of CD47 Monoclonal Antibody Therapy for Pediatric Tumors.”
In a healthy person, when the body makes abnormal cells or cells become old, the body’s scavenger cells, called macrophages, eliminate them in a process defined as programmed cell removal. When a person has cancer, the abnormal cells are not eliminated by the macrophages. Researchers under the leadership of Dr. Irv Weissman discovered that pediatric brain tumor, leukemia, bone tumor and neuroblastoma cells overproduce a cell surface protein known as CD47. The overproduction of CD47 on cancer cells tells macrophages “don’t eat me,” allowing the disease to progress.
In February of 2009, Melissa broke her leg and was rushed to the ER. Her doctor ordered an x-ray to determine the best way to fix her broken leg, and noticed an abnormality, causing them to order an MRI to get a better picture. Later that day, Melissa and her parents received news that no one should ever hear; their 13-year-old daughter had osteosarcoma. Her doctors found cancer in her right hip, femur, and knee. Melissa underwent several rounds ofchemotherapy and eventually had to have her bones fused due to complications from treatment. When she went into remission, her family was ecstatic.
The celebration was short lived because in May of 2010, doctors found cancer in Melissa’s lungs. She had chemotherapy and surgery on her lungs later that year, and went into remission again, this time for a year.
In 2011, her family received the news that Melissa had relapsed again in her lungs and would have to undergo chemotherapy and another surgery. The treatment was successful, but only for a short time, because Melissa relapsed for a third time in 2012. The family began looking for alternative treatments and ended up in Orlando for a clinical trial. The trial went well, and Melissa was declared in remission.
Every 40 minutes a child is diagnosed with cancer. That’s 36 children today, tomorrow, and every day after that. The search for cures is happening now. Every Now. Will you help?
CureSearch is funding research that will solve the field’s most challenging problems. To help find cures now. Every Now.
The big issues: One out of 5 children diagnosed with cancer dies. 60% of those who survive suffer late effects from their treatment, including secondary cancers. The pace at which research must move to find cures and less toxic treatments needs to increase. Novel research needs funding and unwavering support.
Small steps forward: For 36 days, until the first of the New Year, we ask you to take our challenges. Nothing complicated, just small actions you can take to support the children diagnosed every day, which is big.
Together, we can make the most of Every Now
Invite your friends & family, and their friends & family to take today’s challenge!
Visit CureSearch.org/EveryNow to donate, participate, and help to grow the community of those searching for cures Every Now.