$45 million investment in children's cancer research

Wednesday, 26 October, 2022

$45 million investment in children's cancer research

The Children’s Cancer Foundation (CCF) has announced a significant milestone in its vision to increase survival rates and quality of life for children with cancer — thanks to a $35 million boost from the Victorian Government.

The Children’s Cancer Foundation will contribute an additional $10 million of funding to form a $45 million investment package that will leverage Victoria’s existing capabilities and establish Victoria as an important contributor to childhood cancer research and clinical care. This is said to be the biggest investment ever made in Victoria in children’s cancer research.

The $45 million investment over 5 years is Stage 2 funding earmarked for research, clinical trials and workforce development activities within the Victorian Paediatric Cancer Consortium (VPCC). Stage 1 funding was secured by the Children’s Cancer Foundation via the federal government’s Medical Research Future Fund.

The $45 million will be spent on discovery research; clinical trials, survivorship research programs; enhanced biobanking resources; and dedicated childhood cancer physician and research training and grants.

Minister for Innovation, Medical Research and the Digital Economy Jaala Pulford said, “My family has experienced the profound, deep sadness of losing a child to cancer — it’s something I never want any other family to go through.

“We are working with families and our world-class medical researchers to take on children’s cancer. This plan will make a real difference — leading to earlier diagnosis, better treatments and less heartbreak.”

Jeremy Smith, Children’s Cancer Foundation Chairman, said, “Since 1980, over 500 drugs have been approved for treatment of adult cancers. Yet for childhood cancers, the number is 12 worldwide.

“In the midst of the pandemic, the Children’s Cancer Foundation created the Victorian Paediatric Cancer Consortium where we realised research with scale and leverage was critical.

“The VPCC offers a pathway to collaborative excellence. It will nurture local talent, attract global leaders and drive children’s cancer research in Australia for many years to come,” Smith concluded.

New insights are needed that will reduce the harsh effects of treatment and research that will lead to its prevention. Yet until recently, the hospitals, universities and research institutes in Victoria that focus on paediatric cancer had not been formally united to tackle their shared goal.

Professor David Eisenstat, Head of the Children’s Cancer Centre at the Royal Children’s Hospital and Neuro-Oncology Group Leader at the Murdoch Children’s Research Institute, said the VPCC helps develop new therapies based on the ‘biological vulnerabilities of specific childhood cancers’.

“The significant problem has been patients who develop long-term effects of cancer treatment, including heart toxicity, hearing loss, bone marrow suppression, cognitive impairment and second cancers. We need to develop new tests to determine which children will be at greater risk of these unacceptable toxicities and identify alternative effective treatments to avoid these side effects, but at the same time not to reduce the effectiveness of our therapies.

“The VPCC will allow us to pioneer new research and clinical trials here in Victoria and then extend this research to all Australian children.”

Image of Jeremy Smith: Supplied

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