CureSearch for Children's Cancer funds and supportstargeted and innovative children's cancer research with measurableresults, and is the authoritative source of information and resourcesfor all those affected by children's cancer.
Following are some of the most recent, significant findings, as reported by media across the country.
(3ders.org) - A team of surgeons at the Hospital Sant Joan de Déu in Barcelona, Spain has successfully completed a "highly complex" surgery to remove a tumor in a 5 year old boy, thanks to 3D printing.
The child was diagnosed with neuroblastoma, one of the most common cancers in children. It's an "extremely aggressive" tumor that forms in nerve tissue and is diagnosed primarily in children during the first five years of life. The treatment involves surgical removal of the tumor, combined with chemotherapy and/or radiotherapy.
However the tumor is very 'difficult' to remove because there are many blood vessels and arteries surrounding it. This means that surgeons must proceed with "extreme precision" to extract the tumor cells without damaging the arteries and endanger the patient's life.
According to Jaume Mora, head of the operation, the boy has been well treated and they have controlled the disease, but that led to the creation of a tumor in his stomach.
"We tried the surgery twice but we failed because we could not access," said Mora Wednesday in a press conference. But "instead of surrendering we tried to find a solution", he said.
In such a case, it is important to test the operation in advance. In collaboration with Foundation CIM Technology center at the Polytechnic University of Catalonia (UPC), the team has made a prototype that reproduced exactly the tumor using 3D printing. Read more
(Healio) - A risk-based treatment strategy categorized pediatric patients with nonrhabdomyosarcoma soft tissue sarcomas into distinct prognostic groups while utilizing less radiotherapy at lower doses, according to findings from the Children's Oncology Group study ARST0332 presented at the ASCO Annual Meeting.
"Nonrhabdomyosarcoma soft tissue sarcomas comprise about 4% of childhood cancer, but they have been very poorly studied during the past 4 decades with only three prospective clinical trials being conducted in North America," Sheri L. Spunt, MD, MBA, professor of pediatrics in hematology and oncology at the Lucile Salter Packard Children's Hospital, said during a presentation. "As a result, there is no clear standard of care for most of these patients. However, retrospective studies have suggested that outcome is predicted by tumor grade, size, the extent of surgical resection and the extent of disease — similar to adults with soft tissue sarcoma."
Spunt and colleagues sought to evaluate outcomes in 551 patients with a median age of 13.7 years with newly diagnosed nonrhabdomyosarcoma soft tissue sarcomas.
Patients were assigned to one of four risk-based treatment categories. Arm A included patients who underwent surgery with grossly excised low-grade tumors or a ≤ 5 cm widely excised high-grade tumor; arm B included those with a ≤ 5 cm marginally resected high-grade tumor; arm C included those with a > 5 cm grossly resected tumor ± metastases; and arm D included those with a > 5cm unresected tumor ± metastases. Read more
(Harvard School of Public Health) - One of the first studies to analyze the effectiveness of screening survivors of childhood cancer for early signs of impending congestive heart failure (CHF) finds improved health outcomes but suggests that less frequent screening than currently recommended may yield similar clinical benefit. The researchers, in a study published in the Annals of Internal Medicine, utilized a simulation-based model to estimate the long-term benefits associated with routine screening.
The study's findings suggest that the current CHF screening guidelines for survivors of pediatric cancer should be re-examined. The current guidelines recommend that survivors treated with chemotherapy agents known to affect long-term heart health be screened as often as every year, with a schedule dependent on their level of CHF risk. The new study suggests that screening survivors less often may be nearly as effective in detecting heart disease early. Some survivors might be better served by a different method of screening than the one currently used.
"It is important to monitor survivors so we can reduce the late effects of treatment whenever possible, but we may be asking them to be tested too often, which burdens both individuals and the health care system," says senior author Lisa Diller, MD, chief medical officer of Dana-Farber/Boston Children's Cancer and Blood Disorders Center. "We think it is worthwhile to review the current CHF screening guidelines."
"Our findings suggest that there is a long-term benefit in screening survivors at elevated risk for CHF," says lead author Jennifer Yeh, PhD, of the Center for Health Decision Science at Harvard School of Public Health. "Yet less frequent screening than currently recommended may be reasonable when other factors are considered. We hope these results can help inform the ongoing discussion about screening childhood cancer survivors." Read more
(Star Tribune) - Stacy Erholtz was out of conventional treatment options for blood cancer last June when she underwent an experimental trial at the Mayo Clinic that injected her with enough measles vaccine to inoculate 10 million people.
The 50-year-old Pequot Lakes mother is now part of medical history.
The cancer, which had spread widely through her body, went into complete remission and was undetectable in Erholtz's body after just one dose of the measles vaccine, which has an uncanny affinity for certain kinds of tumors.
Erholtz was one of just two subjects in the experiment and the only one to achieve complete remission. But the experiment provides the "proof of concept" that a single, massive dose of intravenous viral therapy can kill cancer by overwhelming its natural defenses, according to Dr. Stephen Russell, a professor of molecular medicine who spearheaded the research at Mayo.
"It's a landmark," Russell said in an interview last week. "We've known for a long time that we can give a virus intravenously and destroy metastatic cancer in mice. Nobody's shown that you can do that in people before."
The research, published online Wednesday in the journal Mayo Clinic Proceedings, represents a "benchmark to strive for and improve upon," according to an accompanying editorial by Dr. John C. Bell of the Centre for Innovative Cancer Research in Ottawa...Read more
(NPR.org) - A scientist's ambitious plan to create an early detection system for eye cancer using people's home cameras is coming along.
Last fall, we told you about Bryan Shaw's scheme. He believes parents' cameras can reveal whether their baby has leukocoria, a white glow coming from the pupil when you shine a light in their eyes. This so-called white eye can be an early sign of retinoblastoma, a rare form of eye cancer.
Children with the disease develop tumors on their retinas at the back of their eyeballs. Shaw wants to make software that will recognize this leukocoria.
This isn't Shaw's field. He's a chemist at Baylor University. But he got involved with leukocoria detection when his newborn son was diagnosed with retinoblastoma in 2008. He and his wife, Elizabeth, had seen leukocoria in baby pictures when Noah was 3 months old, but at the time the photos were taken, they hadn't realized what was going on.
Naturally enough, after his son's diagnosis, Shaw's first thoughts were to do whatever it took to save his son's life....Read more
(Digital Journal) - The quest to improve survival of children with a high-risk brain tumor has led St. Jude Children's Research Hospital investigators to two drugs already used to treat adults with breast, pancreatic, lung and other cancers. The study was published today online ahead of print in the journal Cancer Cell.
Researchers demonstrated that the drugs pemetrexed and gemcitabine killed cells from mouse and human brain tumors, called group 3 medulloblastoma, growing in the laboratory. Medulloblastoma is diagnosed in about 400 children annually in the U.S., making it the most common pediatric brain tumor. Of the four distinct medulloblastoma subtypes, patients with group 3 medulloblastoma have the worst prognosis.
Used together, pemetrexed and gemcitabine doubled life expectancy of mice with human group 3 medulloblastoma, compared to untreated mice. When pemetrexed and gemcitabine were combined with two chemotherapy drugs currently used to treat pediatric medulloblastoma, the mice lived even longer.
The drugs were identified by screening the St. Jude library of 7,389 compounds looking for ones that targeted group 3 mouse tumor cells rather than normal mouse brain cells. The library included all 830 drugs U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approval. Pemetrexed and gemcitabine emerged as the top candidates, based in part on their ability to kill group 3 medulloblastoma tumor cells at concentrations that researchers showed were safe and achievable in patients...Read more
This article features CureSearch Young Investigator Jason Yustein, MD, PhD. To learn more about his research click here.
(Bio News Texas) -The Texas Children's Cancer Center has opened a new space to develop more effective diagnostics and therapeutic approaches for Ewing Sarcoma in chldren. The goal of the new Faris D. Virani Ewing Sarcoma Center is to help find the cure to the rare childhood disease, in which cancer cells are found in bones or soft issues.
Made possible by a $2 million gift from the Virani family, the center will be directed by Dr. Jason Yustein, assistant professor of pediatrics at Baylor College of Medicine, and will honor Asha and Farid Virani's son Faris. During the event that has celebrated the Virani family's gift, Faris, who has been fighting Ewing sarcoma, presented Yustein with a piggy bank containing $1,000.
Over the past 30 to 40 years, only marginal advancements have been made in the care and management of patients with Ewing sarcoma due to the lack of understanding of its biology. "There has been a lack of new chemotherapeutic agents introduced for patients with this disease and current treatments are extremely intensive and often have both short- and long-term side effects that can negatively impact lifestyle and quality of life for these patients," said Yustein...Read more
This article was published by CureSearch Young Investigator Meenakshi Hegde, MD. To learn more about her research click here.
(Discovery Medicine) - Abstract: Glioblastoma (GBM) is the most aggressive primary brain tumor. Combination therapy with surgery, radiation, and chemotherapy is not curative at present and carries a significant risk of toxicity. Advancements in the knowledge of tumor biology and tumor microenvironment have led to the development of novel targeted therapies for glioblastoma. In the past 15 years, a vast amount of pre-clinical data has been generated for glioblastoma immunotherapy. Translating these promising results into the clinic is, however, still an evolving process. Early clinical trials have demonstrated the feasibility and safety of several such approaches in patients with recurrent as well as newly diagnosed glioblastoma. Both passive as well as active immunotherapeutic modalities have also shown potential clinical benefit in at least a subset of these patients. This brief review discusses 'why' and 'how' various types of immunotherapies are being employed to treat glioblastoma.
Introduction: Glioblastoma (GBM) is the most common primary brain tumor in adults with the annual incidence of over 17,000 in the United States (Grossman et al., 2010; Omuro and DeAngelis, 2013). Despite the considerable improvements made in the conventional therapy for glioblastoma over the recent years, prognosis remains extremely poor with a median survival of 18 to 21 months (Finlay et al., 1995; Grossman et al., 2010; Johnson et al., 2012). Complete tumor resection is difficult owing to the diffusely infiltrative nature of the tumor (Grossman et al., 2010). Concomitant and adjuvant chemotherapy with the alkylating agent temozolomide along with radiation has only been shown to improve median survival by 2.5 months (Stupp et al., 2005). In the past decade, substantial amount of progress has been made in dissecting the glioblastoma biology in relation to its microenvironment as well as the host immune system. This has paved the way for researchers to explore novel targeted immunotherapeutic approaches that have the potential to improve cure rates with minimal toxicities, due to sparing of the surrounding normal brain structures. Here we review the advances made in some of the passive and active immunotherapeutic strategies for glioblastoma...Read more
(Washington University in St. Louis) - Babies who develop leukemia during the first year of life appear to inherit an unfortunate combination of genetic variations that can make the infants highly susceptible to the disease, according to a new study at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis and the University of Minnesota.
The research is available online in the journal Leukemia.
Doctors have long puzzled over why it is that babies just a few months old sometimes develop cancer. As infants, they have not lived long enough to accumulate a critical number of cancer-causing mutations.
"Parents always ask why their child has developed leukemia, and unfortunately we have had few answers," said senior author Todd Druley, MD, PhD, a Washington University pediatric oncologist who treats patients at St. Louis Children's Hospital. "Our study suggests that babies with leukemia inherit a strong genetic predisposition to the disease."
The babies appear to have inherited rare genetic variants from both parents that by themselves would not cause problems, but in combination put the infants at high risk of leukemia. These variants most often occurred in genes known to be linked to leukemia in children, said Druley, an assistant professor of pediatrics...Read more
(Science World Report) - Researchers from the UT Health Center may have pinpointed a protein that could potentially play a key role in the development of pediatric AML-promising new information to treat and cure possible childhood leukemias.
Background information from the study notes that AML begins when maturing cells start to grow into different kinds of blood cells. For this, the cancerous cells grow and proliferate in an abnormal way as they fail to develop into normally functioning white blood cells. The high levels of a protein known as WTAP can contribute to abnormal cell behavior, which could harm the effectiveness of treatments for this type of leukemia.
For Sanja Bansal, Ph.D., and researchers at Greehey Children's Cancer Research Center at The University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio, they worked to "knock down" leukemia cells via a technique known as WTAP expression in AML cells. The results yielded successful findings, according to background information from the study.
"Knocking down this protein, WTAP, greatly suppressed proliferation and induced differentiation," said Hima Bansal, Ph.D., senior research associate at the Health Science Center and lead author of the paper, via a press release. "It took care of both problems."...Read more
(Oncology Nurse Advisor) - Despite being diagnosed with life-threatening illnesses, childhood cancer patients are no more likely than their healthy peers to develop post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
According to the a study from carried out at St. Jude Children's Research Hospital in Memphis, Tennessee, young cancer patients were also more likely than children who experience other stressful events to report having benefited from the experience. Reported benefits included developing greater empathy and growing closer to family and friends. The research appears in the Journal of Clinical Oncology (2014; doi:10.1200/JCO.2013.49.8212).
The study included 255 St. Jude patients who were between ages 8 to and 17 years when their cancer was diagnosed. Based on self-reported patient symptoms, researchers concluded that 2.8%, or 7 patients, met the criteria for a diagnosis of PTSD either when the study was conducted or in the prior to the study timeframeast. The PTSD was cancer-related in two 2 patients. In the other five 5 patients, the anxiety disorder was linked to a drive-by shooting, Hurricane Katrina, or other stressful events.
This incidence of PTSD was comparable to with rates reported in community samples of children without cancer and a similar group of 101 healthy peers recruited for the study. The prevalence, however, contrasts sharply with previous reports from other investigators who identified cancer-related PTSD as a widespread problem. Those estimates suggested that 20% to 35% of childhood cancer patients would develop PTSD...Read more
(Science Codex) - The first comprehensive, large-scale cohort study of the long-term survival of children treated for low-grade gliomas, the most common pediatric brain tumor, finds that almost 90 percent are alive 20 years later and that few die from the tumor as adults. However, children who received radiation as part of their treatment had significantly lower long-term survival rates than children who were not radiated, researchers from Dana-Farber/Boston Children's Cancer and Blood Disorders Center report. These findings stand regardless of whether surgeons could successfully remove a child's entire tumor or only part of it, suggesting that the radiation itself may explain the difference.
The findings were published online by the journal Pediatric Blood and Cancer.
Delivery of radiation to children's developing brains has been linked to a number of adverse long-term effects, including cognitive development and endocrine function. While a number of major hospitals, including Dana-Farber/Boston Children's, have almost eliminated radiation in treating low-grade gliomas, the extent to which other institutions employ radiation varies, according to the study's senior author, Peter Manley, MD, of the Brain Tumor Center at Dana-Farber/Boston Children's...Read more
Learn more about radiation therapy here.
(Oncology Nurse Advisor) - In a prime example of finding new uses for older drugs, studies in zebrafish show that a 50-year-old antipsychotic medication called perphenazine can actively combat the cells of a difficult-to-treat form of acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL). The drug works by turning on a cancer-suppressing enzyme called PP2A and causes malignant tumor cells to self-destruct.
The findings suggest that developing medications that activate PP2A, while avoiding the psychotropic effects of perphenazine, could help clinicians make much-needed headway against T-cell ALL (T-ALL), and perhaps other tumors as well.
The study was led by A. Thomas Look, MD, of Dana-Farber/Boston Children's Cancer and Blood Disorders Center, and reported the in the Journal of Clinical Investigation...Read more
(University of Washington) - An aberrant gene has been found to cause the most common childhood cancer in the world, pre-B cell acute lymphoblastic leukemia or ALL.
The gene, PAX5, has long been known to be involved in ALL. The new study indicates a mutation in the gene alone is sufficient to eventually cause the disease. ALL affects nearly 3,000 children and teenagers in the United States each year.
The discovery should make it possible to screen for the gene in families with a history of the disease and suggests new strategies for treating the disease, said Dr. Marshall Horwitz, professor of pathology and of medicine at the University of Washington. He is a co-author of the new study...Read more
(dailyRx News) - Childhood cancer is very rare. And when it does strike, most kids live through it. The lifesaving treatments affect young bodies though, and those effects can show up later in life.
Adults who were treated for cancer as children were more likely to develop cardiovascular disease than the general population, a new study has discovered.
The researchers examined the incidence of and modifiable risk factors for cardiovascular disease in childhood cancer survivors...Read more
(Medical Xpress) – Proton therapy, using high-energy subatomic particles, may offer a precise, organ-sparing treatment option for children with high-risk forms of neuroblastoma. For patients in a new study of advanced radiation treatment, proton therapy spared the liver and kidneys from unwanted radiation, while zeroing in on its target.
"As survival rates improve for children with neuroblastoma, we need to reduce treatment-related long-term toxicities," said study leader Christine Hill-Kayser, M.D., a radiation oncologist in the cancer center at The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP). "Proton beam therapy offers precise targeting with less radiation exposure to healthy tissue."
Hill-Kayser and colleagues published their study online June 4, 2013 in Pediatric Blood & Cancer...Read more
(Reuters Health) – Despite research indicating that women who had cancer as girls have difficulty getting pregnant, a new study suggests that most can conceive, though it might take longer than usual.
Researchers from the U.S. and Canada found that female childhood cancer survivors tended to take longer to conceive than their sisters, but nearly two-thirds of the infertile survivors eventually did get pregnant.
"The main message counters what some people have thought, which is if you had cancer you won't be able to get pregnant or have children," said Dr. Lisa Diller, the study's senior author, from the Dana-Farber/Boston Children's Cancer and Blood Disorders Center...Read more
(Mlive.com) -- GRAND RAPIDS, MI – The first national clinical trial ever approved to study all incurable children’s cancers is underway at Van Andel Institute.
Of the 10,000 pediatric cancer cases diagnosed each year, about 25 percent are considered incurable even with aggressive treatments. The study will analyze the molecular makeup and genetic mutations of individual tumors to create a targeted treatment plan for each patient.
"We are very excited to have this study at Van Andel Institute," said Dr. Giselle Sholler, the pediatric oncologist leading the research...Read more
(Sciencecodex.com) -- BOSTON—A type of low-grade but sometimes lethal brain tumor in children has been found in many cases to contain an unusual mutation that may help to classify, diagnose and guide the treatment of the tumors, report scientists at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute.
The researchers led a study of pediatric low-grade gliomas, samples of which were collected through an international consortium organized by brain tumor specialists at Dana-Farber/Children's Hospital Cancer Center. Their findings are being published online by the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS) the week of April 29.
Low-grade gliomas are the most common type of pediatric brain tumors, diagnosed in about 1,000 young patients annually in the United States. There are about 30 distinct types of these tumors, which arise from specialized cells called glia in the brain. Low-grade gliomas are generally slow-growing, said Keith Ligon, MD, PhD, a senior author of the study, but they behave unpredictably...Read more
(News-Medical.net) -- When the eye cancer retinoblastoma is diagnosed in racial and ethnic minority children whose families don't have private health insurance, it often takes a more invasive, potentially life-threatening course than in other children, probably because of delays in diagnosis, Dana-Farber/Children's Hospital Cancer Center (DF/CHCC) researchers will report at the 26th annual meeting of the American Society of Pediatric Hematology Oncology being held in Miami, April 24-27.
By analyzing data and tumor samples from 203 children across the United States who had been treated for retinoblastoma, the investigators found that the disease was more invasive at diagnosis in patients who were non-white, Hispanic, uninsured, or covered by Medicaid. Researchers now need to explore why the disease tends to be diagnosed later in such children and how those delays can be eliminated, said the study authors.
Retinoblastomas are tumors that develop during childhood in the light-sensitive retina at the back of the eye. There are about 350 new cases diagnosed each year in the United States. Treatment may require surgical removal of the affected eye and, if the disease...Read more
(PRNewswire-USNewswire) -- Humans have between 20,000 and 25,000 genes that carry instructions for assembling the proteins that do the work of cells. Work led by St. Jude Children's Research Hospital found that children who inherit certain variations in four particular genes are at much higher risk of developing acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL).
The study also showed that Hispanic patients were more likely than patients of European or African ancestry to inherit high-risk versions of two of these genes. ALL rates are known to be higher among Hispanic children than those of European or African ancestry, this discovery points to at least one reason for that difference.
Each person's genome includes two copies of each gene, one from each parent. Thus, individuals could inherit up to eight high-risk versions of the four genes tied to an increased ALL risk. In this study, researchers found that having more than five copies of the risk genes resulted in a nine-fold greater risk of developing ALL in childhood than inheriting no more than one copy...Read more
(theatlantic.com) - Danny and other children with cancer could benefit sufficiently from more research into pediatric-specific treatments. While adult-oriented chemotherapy is proven to help cure cancer, it has innumerable side effects. Even though the treatments are approved for children, they are also the same used for adults, just at a lower dose.
But there is not enough funding for childhood cancer, specifically. The National Cancer Institute, a government organization, provides funding for researchers, but only 10 percent of them can move forward with their findings due to budget cuts. Most of the financial support researchers receive is from philanthropists.
In the meantime, research that could benefit children on an individual level stays in the lab, and doctors prescribe the same regimens that can be successful, but can also hurt the patient in several ways. Researchers say they are working hard to discover new theories and treatments, but they feel they are being held back.
"Ninety-six percent of grants don't get funded," said Dr. William Carroll, researcher and director of the cancer institute at New York University. "There's no doubt there's less funding available, and it's driving people out of the field." Read more