The mission of the TeamConnor Childhood Cancer Foundation is to fund research that attempts to find new treatment options and cures for our most vulnerable population, children. With this goal in mind, the Board of Directors has approved funding for 2020 for the following research work:
Dr Dasgupta at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital will be examining an unexplored, potentially critical factor in how diffuse intrinsic pontine gliomas (DIPGs) form in the brains of children. DIPGs are rare, incurable brain tumors. Most children live less than two years after diagnosis and the likelihood of survival at five years is 1%. There is no way to operate on these brainstem tumors due to their location, often radiation in used, and chemotherapy has not proven successful.
Dr Dasgupta sill begin to unravel the genetics and metabolism of these tumors in order to generate an interactive map of the cellular networks that make up DIPGs. From this map, new therapies can be generated using medications that are identified as targets.
Additionally, this data will be made publicly available so that researchers globally can continue to work towards improved treatment for children with DIPGs.
Improvement in the treatment, cure and long-term survival of young children with neuroblastoma, continues to be at the heart of the TeamConnor mission. Like Connor, children today with neuroblastoma continue to endure extensive treatments, including surgery, chemotherapy, radiation and immunotherapy, with 50% still succumbing to their cancer, due to tumor spread, secondary tumors, or failure of treatment.
Dr Tao at Texas Children’s Hospital in Houston, Texas will investigate one of the critical genes in high risk neuroblastoma to determine if new medications can be used to wipe out the aggressive neuroblastoma cells. Especially for children whose cancer becomes resistant to treatment, Dr Tao will look for ways to find improved methods for overcoming resistance to current therapies.
Dr. Bassiri at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia will be delving deeper into research involving a type of NKT cells (natural killer T cells) that may have a significant role in high risk tumors. He and his team at CHOP are hopeful that their knowledge of NKT cells will allow for the development of NKT cell- based immunotherapy for neuroblastoma in the future, providing a new form of therapy that may have improved outcomes with fewer toxic side effects.
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