Zero Childhood Cancer program taking shape

11 Nov 2016

After the PM’s gift last week to Zero Childhood Cancer, our Manager of Personalised Medicine, Vanessa Tyrrell, spoke about how the program is progressing.

The Zero Childhood Cancer personalised medicine program recognises that to cure every child we need to develop tailored treatments to target each child’s individual cancer.

To establish the Program, we’ve been working in partnership with clinicians from the Kids Cancer Centre at Sydney Children’s Hospital, Randwick and research and clinical partners around Australia. After the program’s launch in 2015, the pilot study opened and has been running this year.

While initially 12 children were expected to be enrolled in the pilot study, we now have more than double this number enrolled, due to strong engagement and recognition of the need for a precision medicine approach from clinicians and families.

This year we’ve been getting ready for the clinical trial. We’ve used this pilot study year to:

  • develop the laboratory procedures and protocols internally and with our collaborators to leverage multiple technologies and expertise to analyse clinical, genetic and biological data from patient tumours and their normal tissue
  • build the national infrastructure for the program with the Federal Government providing $20M just last week – a major contribution
  • identify and work to overcome technical challenges such as determining the minimum amounts of tumour sample needed for analysis, and maintaining sample viability during transport
  • establish the program’s headquarters, the $1.5M ACRF Child Cancer Personalised Medicine Centre, officially opened by the Governor-General on 2 September (see video below)
  • engage our network of clinical and research partners across Australia and internationally, with new partners coming on board this year. See the full list of partners on our website.

While there’s more work to do before the national clinical trial starts next year, we’re on track with milestones. We’re aiming to have 400 children participating in the trial, instead of the 120 originally envisaged, thanks to generous funding and support.

The national clinical trial will run from mid-2017 to mid-2020, at which time we hope to have shown that a personalised medicine approach is effective for managing the treatment of children with cancer. Our end-goal is to be able to offer the platform as a national personalised medicine program for all Australian children with high risk cancer from 2020.

Read more about Zero Childhood Cancer and download an infographic of the program’s journey (pdf, 250KB).

Photo: PM Malcolm Turnbull and Health Minister Sussan Ley toured the Kids Cancer Centre at Sydney Children’s Hospital, Randwick last week.