Monrovia, Calif.-based St. Baldrick’s Foundation recently announced $699,186 in grants to one consortium and three cancer researchers at The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. The Testicular Cryopreservation Consortium will receive $125,000, while Children’s Hospital investigators Shannon Maude, MD, PhD, Michael Hogarty, MD, and Vandana Batra, MD, will receive $330,000, $110,000, and $134,186, respectively.
Known for its head-shaving events — where volunteers have their heads shaved in solidarity with children fighting cancer — since 2005 the St. Baldrick’s Foundation has distributed more than $100 million in research grants to support childhood cancer research. The recently announced grants to CHOP are among 63 grants totaling $22 million to be announced during the summer of 2013.
The award to the Testicular Cryopreservation Consortium — which is led by The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia — will support efforts to allow boys being treated for cancer to freeze testicular tissue to preserve their fertility for the future.
“We are so grateful that St. Baldrick’s has awarded us another year of funding,” said Jill Ginsberg, MD, director of Children’s Hospital’s Cancer Survivorship Program. “We are hopeful that advances in the laboratory will make it possible for these boys to achieve fertility when they are ready to start a family. This work could not have been accomplished without the support of St. Baldrick’s Foundation.”
The award to Dr. Maude, a St. Baldrick’s Scholar award given over three years, will support her work on acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL). The most common form of childhood leukemia, ALL is largely curable, with an 85 percent cure rate. However, the other 15 percent of ALL patients face limited treatment options, so researchers have been looking for novel ways to treat this disease.
“The St. Baldrick’s Scholar award provides pivotal support in a young investigator’s career,” said Dr. Maude, who added that she was “very grateful to the St. Baldrick’s Foundation for enabling me to pursue a research career with the goal of finding new treatments for difficult to treat forms of ALL.”
Dr. Michael Hogarty was awarded an $110,000 St. Baldrick’s Research Grant to support his neuroblastoma research. Affecting the peripheral nervous system, neuroblastoma usually appears as a solid tumor in a child’s chest or abdomen. Though only comprising 7 percent of all childhood cancers, it causes 10 to 15 percent of all childhood cancer-related deaths. Neuroblastoma is also notoriously complex, with a broad number of gene changes that can give rise to the disease.
Dr. Hogarty — who also recently received an award from Alex’s Lemonade Stand Foundation — has been studying the epigenetics of neuroblastoma, supported in part with earlier funding from St. Baldrick’s Foundation.
And last but certainly not least, Dr. Batra, an attending physician in CHOP’s Cancer Center, was awarded $134, 186 to fund an additional year of her neuroblastoma investigation. Dr. Batra has been leading a study of the drug 211At-MABG, to treat neuroblastoma more effectively and with fewer side effects.
“Successful completion of this project funded by St Baldrick’s will help fill the void of novel therapeutic approaches and will ultimately lead to the incorporation of a new targeted radiotherapeutic 211At-MABG into frontline approaches to high-risk neuroblastoma therapy,” said Dr. Batra.
To learn more about the awards, see the full press release from St. Baldrick’s Foundation.