Cooper Rice-Brading Foundation funding to benefit sarcoma research

15 Feb 2024

Young Australians fighting sarcoma, an aggressive tumour that mainly affects children, teenagers, and young adults, will welcome the announcement this week of an exciting new initiative to boost vital research into this disease.

The initiative, known as the ‘Paediatric Preclinical Biobank’, has been made possible through funding of $312,000 by the Cooper Rice-Brading Foundation, which received a generous donation from the Sutcliffe Family Trust in memory of both a young family member taken by sarcoma, and of Cooper Rice-Brading, who also passed away from osteosarcoma in 2017.

Jeremy Sutcliffe, the inaugural Chairman of the Cooper Rice-Brading Foundation, said: ‘Sarcoma is a devastating cancer which disproportionately affects young people and yet is not well known and attracts insufficient funding. The Biobank is a fantastic initiative on the road to developing effective interventions and treatments which will save the lives of our youth in the future.’

The Paediatric Preclinical Biobank will be located at Children’s Cancer Institute, where researchers have developed more than 400 ‘avatar models’ — living models of disease derived from the cancer cells of children with high-risk cancers including sarcoma. These models are vital for the testing of new therapeutic approaches. The funding will support the Biobank’s flagship sarcoma program and will allow 80 unique paediatric and adolescent and young adult (AYA) sarcoma models to be characterised, expanded and made available to the research community.

Until now, there has been no existing platform to manage, consolidate and share this valuable resource with the broader research community. The Biobank now fills this gap. As well as allowing for testing of new therapies for sarcoma, the Biobank will help advance personalised treatments for children with cancer, reduce the risks associated with experimental therapies for young children and advance research, which will ultimately lead to a deeper understanding of the underlying biology of this devastating disease.

The Cooper Rice-Brading Foundation in collaboration with long time supporter’s The Kids’ Cancer Project has previously supported the Children’s Cancer Institute sarcoma research via the Wipfli Family Sarcoma Research Grant, kicking-off critical research into identifying new therapeutic treatment targets for young sarcoma patients across the course of their disease, with a technique called “phosphoproteomics”, led by Dr. Emmy Fleuren. This new funding for the Biobanking initiative extends Dr. Fleuren’s crucial research through collaboration with the Institute’s Bioresources and Data Enabling Platform and is extremely welcome news.

‘The Foundation makes a major contribution to the work we do,’ said Dr. Emmy Fleuren, Team Leader of the Sarcoma Biology and Therapeutics Group. ‘I’m so excited that, through this new initiative, we now have the opportunity to establish a Biobank to enable access to high-quality sarcoma models for the entire childhood, adolescent and young adult (AYA) cancer research community. This will be a truly unique resource and will greatly add to the global capacity of sarcoma research.’

The announcement of the Biobank coincides with International Childhood Cancer Day — a global initiative to raise awareness about childhood cancer – with the intention of giving the families of children with sarcoma a real sense of hope for the future.

For more information about the Cooper Rice-Brading Foundation or to make a donation: