Pediatric Cancer Research Gets Huge Boost with SU2C Dream Team Funding

After being introduced to Avalanna and Justin during the Stand Up to Cancer's telethon earlier this month, we learned the campaign will help fund the organization's latest "Dream Team" devoted to pediatric cancers.This is an area that has seen dramatic survival improvements over the past 30 years, but it's mostly due to the way childhood cancer patients are treated -- more than half are treated within clinical trials. Only one treatment specifically for childhood cancer has been approved in 30 years. "Little patients, losing patience: pediatric cancer drug development," a summary of the state of childhood cancer research published in the journal, Molecular Cancer Therapeutics, authors shared that the approval of clofarabine in 2004 for pediatric ALL was a milestone as it was originally approved for children."This is a major exception, as approval of new cancer drugs for pediatric patients is typically an afterthought to their development and approval for treating adult cancers. In fact, of the 120 new cancer therapies for adults approved by the FDA between 1948 and January 2003, only 30 have shown use in children. Of those 30 drugs, only 15 acquired any labeling for pediatric use during that same 55-year period."The authors went on to characterize childhood cancers as the "stepchild" of cancer drug development. This new SU2C Dream Team hopes to turn the tide. A partnership between SU2C, the American Association of Cancer Research and St. Baldrick's Foundation, a childhood cancer organization devoted to funding research, the groups will earmark $14.5 million dollars for the cause. The SU2C campaign has funded several other collaborative research teams, called "Dream Teams," in areas such as melanoma, prostate, pancreatic, breast and gynecological cancers.These teams are working toward research that is considered innovative, with the idea that these scientists will pool resources and brain power to come up with real solutions that will reach patients quickly. We're already seeing the fruits of previous Dream Team research, such as those studying the PI3K pathways in breast cancer. Let's hope this new attention to childhood cancers comes to fruition quickly for the sakes of Avalanna, Justin and the 12,600 other children diagnosed with cancer every year.If you missed the telecast, you can view it on hulu.com or read our live blog about the showing.