Can you imagine anything more heartbreaking than a child having cancer?
And worse – cancer in their brain, a location that is very difficult to access and has close to no hope of being treated successfully.
It would be devastating, but thanks to your support of The Hospital Research Foundation Home Lottery, local scientists are progressing a breakthrough new treatment which could be given to children possibly as early as this year.
Dr Tessa Gargett, Research Officer at Adelaide’s Centre for Cancer Biology is leading the work which involves the use of science’s latest development: CAR T-cell therapy.
CAR T-cell therapy involves using a patient’s own cancer-fighting T-cells, genetically engineering them in the lab with Chimeric Antigen Receptors (CAR), and then returning them to the patient in the hope they can attack the cancer.
“(These children) often get diagnosed about two or three years old, which is really devastating for their families. A lot of the parents and carers say that the thing that upsets them the most is that they don’t have a lot of treatment options,” Dr Gargett explains.
CAR T-cell therapy has shown to be successful in children with leukaemia, and research teams globally are now seeing if it will work in other types of cancer such as melanoma and breast cancer. Dr Gargett and her collaborators in Sydney and the US are the one of the only groups trying it in childhood brain cancer.
“We are so grateful to THRF supporters who have enabled us to receive this grant – we see this as bridging funding to help us get over this last hurdle to clinical trials,” says Dr Gargett.
“To nearly be at the stage where we can take our work in the lab and apply it to real patients, that’s very rewarding.”