DETROIT--(BUSINESS WIRE)--15,780 children are diagnosed with cancer annually in the U.S. and it’s the leading cause of medical deaths among youth here. September is Pediatric Cancer Awareness Month, designated by Congress at the urging of parents whose children had cancer to increase awareness and raise funds for research and family support.
Locally, Children’s Hospital of Michigan Foundation is a leader in fostering medical research for pediatric cancer. CHMF funds vital early-stage pre-clinical research—the laboratory studies essential before treatments are tested on patients. Philanthropy is increasingly important because federally-supported medical research has been declining. Pediatric research only receives a fraction of the allocation devoted to adult cancers.
CHMF funded early research leading to identification of a key genetic mutation that can trigger acute lymphoblastic leukemia. Madhvi Rajpurkar, MD, division chief of hematology at Children’s Hospital of Michigan and professor of pediatrics at Wayne State University School of Medicine and Michael Callaghan, MD, assistant professor, with a team of international scientists recently published results of their nearly-10 year investigation.
“By investigating genetics of cancer, we’ll be able to improve diagnosis, identify children at risk and develop new treatments. Our main limitation is financial because federal funding has dwindled, becoming more competitive,” said Jeffrey Taub, MD, chief of the division of oncology at CHM and professor of pediatrics at Wayne.
Dr. Taub is studying the impact of pesticides on a pre-leukemic gene as a possible factor in childhood leukemia, using zebra fish for laboratory studies through support CHMF and the nonprofit Kids Without Cancer.
A new treatment for neuroblastoma is being tested on young patients at CHM and Sloan Kettering in New York. Maxim Yankelevich, MD, assistant professor at Wayne and a CHM oncologist, and Lawrence G. Lum, MD, DSc, scientific director, immunotherapy and bone marrow transplant with Karmanos Cancer Institute and professor of oncology, recently received a National Cancer Institute grant for Phase I and II clinical trials of this new treatment to remove, strengthen and multiplies the patient’s antibodies, then manipulates them to fight neuroblastoma cancer cells. Contributions from the Matthew Bittker Foundation and CHMF helped fund these studies.
Recently the Hyundai Hope on Wheels program (www.hyundaihopeonwheels.org), awarded CHMF $250,000 to support Dr. Taub’s research. He’ll lead a study of a potential new combination of chemotherapy drugs for acute myeloid leukemia, using leukemic cell lines. This blood cancer is difficult to treat and often recurs after chemotherapy.
“We’re fortunate to have dedicated, innovative medical researchers and a community that supports them.” said Tony Werner, CHMF president and chief executive officer.