New Clinical Trial Aims to Tackle Deadliest of Brain Tumors

‘Midline malignant glioma’ is a mouthful – and it’s also one of the deadliest forms of childhood cancer. A four year old child diagnosed with this kind of brain tumor at has less than a five percent chance of making it to his or her sixth birthday. Traditional chemotherapy has not been effective against this type of cancer, and scientists haven’t found a better way to treat it since the 1960s. This is what Dr. Lulla and his colleagues at Lurie Children’s Hospital are working to change.

Over and over, Dr. Lulla has seen families who receive this diagnosis rocked when they learn about the grim survival rates and lack of viable treatments.

 “We are continually astonished and impressed by our patients and their families,” Dr. Lulla said. “These families come to us with previously healthy kids, are given grave diagnoses, and then battle these illnesses with grace and strength.”

Dr. Lulla’s research aims to use promising data from a study of adults with the same cancer to design a clinical trial for children. This trial will use a bromodomain inhibitor, which acts like an on/off switch to regulate genes that cause the tumor to grow. Dr. Lulla’s Phase I trial will test whether these bromodomain inhibitors are safe in children with recurrent central nervous system tumors and, later on, malignant glioma. The goal is to increase the understanding of the biology of childhood brain tumors so that researchers can create personalized treatments.

Children’s Cancer Research Fund is helping fund this clinical trial, thanks to a gift from Love Your Melon. With less than five percent of total government funding for cancer going to pediatric cancer research, researchers like Dr. Lulla and his team need our support to continue their valuable work.

 “Support from donors is extremely important in the research field – now more than ever before,” Dr. Lula said. “We depend on the generosity of individuals and organizations like Children’s Cancer Research Fund to see the value of this work on outcomes for kids and their quality of life.”

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