$3.75 million grant to fight brain cancer in children

February 16, 2020 by J-Wire Newsdesk
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Associate Professor David Ziegler of the Sydney Children’s Hospital, Randwick has received a $3.75 million grant from The Cancer Institute NSW.

Associate Professor David Zeigler

He is leading research work to develop new treatments for DIPG a tumour of the brain stem which is almost exclusively diagnosed in children.

Diffuse intrinsic pontine glioma (DIPG) currently has the worst prognosis of all paediatric brain tumours.

Despite significant advances in childhood cancer treatments, more work needs to be done.

This research has the potential to deliver a new care model, therapies and better outcomes for children with inoperable brain tumours.

Many childhood brain tumours remain incurable, and brain cancers kill more children in Australia than any other disease.

Associate Professor Ziegler says his laboratory research has identified several highly promising new agents that are highly active against these aggressive tumours, and offer new strategies for treatment.

He said: “With this additional funding, we’ll be looking at treatments like immunotherapy and drugs targeting specific genetic mutations to help our young patients.”

They hope to introduce clinical trials that will for the first time use these new therapies to treat children with brain tumours who otherwise may have no other treatment options.

‘My research is driven by the patients I see in clinic every day. I’m focused on developing new therapies we can get into the clinic to help children with high-risk cancers. Too many children are still suffering and dying – that’s what we need to change,” says Professor Ziegler.

David’s translational work has led to Australian children being the first in the world to receive new therapies for cancers like DIPG.

He said: “A few years ago, we didn’t really have any treatment options for children with DIPG, so we’ve been able to change the way we manage these high-risk cancers,’ he says. ‘I hope in the next 10 years there is a transformational change, where this kind of targeted approach goes from research to being the standard way in which we treat children with cancer.”

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