Since The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center opened its doors in 1944, it has successfully taken care of children. MD Anderson Children’s Cancer Hospital exists within MD Anderson, one of only 45 comprehensive cancer centers designated by the National Cancer Institute. MD Anderson Children’s Cancer Hospital brings hope to families, offering the most advanced childhood cancer treatments while developing and incorporating research-driven therapies into individual care.
Childhood brain tumors are among the most devastating diagnoses a parent can hear. More effective and less toxic therapies are desperately needed to improve the survival rate and quality of life for young patients with these aggressive cancers. Toward this end, researchers within MD Anderson Children’s Cancer Hospital are doing remarkable work focused on bringing a leading-edge technique for treating pediatric brain tumors into the standard of care.
Delivering anti-cancer agents to tumors in the brain is an ongoing challenge, one that has plagued oncologists since the beginning of modern cancer care. Even after initial clinical results, tumors will recur in the brain because it is a “sanctuary” site protected from the effects of chemotherapy by the blood-brain barrier. Direct application of therapy via the brain’s fourth ventricle bypasses this issue and holds great potential for effectively treating pediatric patients with medulloblastoma, ependymoma and atypical teratoid/rhabdoid tumors. This approach is employed immediately following surgical removal of the tumor, when the team inserts a catheter attached to an access device into the brain’s fourth ventricle. The access point allows direct administration of a patient’s own NK cells into the actual tumor site, enabling the highest possible therapy concentration there while sparing healthy tissue and preserving function. The MD Anderson Children’s Cancer Hospital is the first site in the world to combine this direct application technique with immunotherapy treatment.
Funds raised from this special event will enable the team to recruit the final patients needed to finish this important study. Moreover, completion of this Phase 1 trial will establish the maximum tolerated dose of NK cells and set the stage for the next step of this important work: a $2 million Phase II study that will use imaging and cytology to determine the overall response of tumors near the fourth ventricle to NK cell therapy. Your generosity will enable the team to further advance a novel idea poised to translate to a new, practice-changing approach to therapy and ultimately will help save more young patients from lethal brain cancers and diminish treatment side effects that threaten their future health.
Cancer disrupts the lives of every member in the family of a child with cancer. Together through this special event and with your support, we can have a greater impact on achieving MD Anderson’s ultimate goal to end cancer. Every child deserves a chance to fulfill their dreams.