TeamConnor Childhood Cancer Foundation donated $250,000 to three research hospitals to study brain tumors, neuroblastoma, and natural killer T cells. The research will be conducted respectively at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital, Baylor College of Medicine and its affiliated partner Texas Children’s Hospital, and Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia.
“Each year we seek out researchers who are innovative in their approach to childhood cancer research,” said Dr. Amy Pass, TeamConnor Board Member. “This year’s recipients are exceptional researchers who have dedicated their talents to find answers to difficult challenges. We have funded three exceptional projects that have great potential to bring us another step closer to finding cures.”
Dr. Dasgupta at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital will examine an unexplored, potentially critical factors that sustain intrinsic pontine gliomas (DIPGs) that form in the brains of children. DIPGs are rare, incurable brain tumors. Most children live less than two years after diagnosis and the likelihood of survival at five years is 1%. There is no way to operate on these brainstem tumors due to their location. Radiation and chemotherapy have not proven successful.
Awarded $100,000, Dr. Dasgupta will unravel the genetics and metabolism of the tumors to generate an interactive map of the cellular networks that make up DIPGs. From this map, new therapies can be generated using medications that are identified as targets. Additionally, this data will be publicly available so that researchers globally can continue to work towards improved treatment for children with DIPGs.
Dr. Tao and her team from Baylor College of Medicine and its affiliated partner Texas Children’s Hospital in Houston received $50,000 to investigate strategies to overcome neuroblastoma resistance to current therapies. She has identified a critical metabolic pathway in high-risk neuroblastoma. She will determine if targeting neuroblastoma metabolism can restore the sensitivity of this aggressive cancer to chemotherapy. Dr. Tao expects their research will provide novel mechanistic insight in drug resistance and will develop clinically translatable approaches that will benefit children who develop resistance to treatment.
A $100,000 grant was awarded to Dr. Bassiri at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP) who will delve deeper into research involving a type of NKT cells (natural killer T cells) that may have a significant role in high risk tumors. He and his team at CHOP are hopeful that their knowledge of NKT cells will allow for the development of NKT cell- based immunotherapy for neuroblastoma in the future, providing a new form of therapy that may have improved outcomes with fewer toxic side effects.
“Research is critical to unlocking the mysteries that have bewildered the medical community for decades,” said Joy Cruse, founder of TeamConnor. “As a nonprofit, we must be good stewards of the funds we are entrusted with and we have chosen these researchers and their institutions to take their research to the next level. We must find better solutions to save children diagnosed with cancer and allow them to have a good quality of life once they are in remission.”
Improvement in the treatment, cure and long-term survival of young children with neuroblastoma, continues to be at the heart of the TeamConnor mission. Children with neuroblastoma endure extensive treatments, including surgery, chemotherapy, radiation and immunotherapy, with 50% of children succumbing to their cancer, due to tumor spread, secondary tumors, or failure of treatment.
Since 2008, TeamConnor has donated more than $3 million to numerous hospitals across the country in its mission to fund research that attempts to find new treatment options and cures for the most vulnerable population, children. TeamConnor Childhood Cancer Foundation is dedicated to raising awareness and funding research and treatment programs to find a cure for all childhood cancers.
Every year, more than 12,500 children and adolescents are diagnosed with cancer in the United States. Childhood cancer is the number one disease killer of children, yet the federal government allocates less than four percent of its funds to pediatric cancer research.
TeamConnor hosts several events throughout the year to raise funds and awareness for childhood cancer research, including the 16th Annual III Forks Golf Classic, May 3 & 4, 2020; and the 10th Annual Northwestern Mutual Clay Shoot, November 2, 2020. For more information on TeamConnor events, contact Sydney Little, special events and outreach coordinator, at firstname.lastname@example.org or (972) 663-7302.
For more information on how to join the fight against childhood cancer, please visit teamconnor.org or follow TeamConnor on Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn or Facebook.