Dr Raelene Endersby, Co-Head, Brain Tumour Research at Telethon Kids Institute is investigating an exciting new immunotherapy for children with brain cancer that has potential to lead to new clinical trials in the near future.
The laboratory at the West Australian centre that Raelene runs in partnership with Dr Nick Gottardo recently received a grant from The Kids’ Cancer Project for an exciting scientific collaboration with a number of groups around Australia and the United States.
The study looks into immunotherapy, as opposed to chemotherapy or radiotherapy, to teach the body’s immune system to recognise and destroy brain cancer cells.
“There are still many children diagnosed with incurable brain cancer where we have no treatments to offer,” says Dr Endersby.
“Immunotherapy is a relatively new treatment that has worked very well in some adult cancers, but these benefits have not yet been realised for kids with brain cancer.”
“In a project funded by The Kids’ Cancer Project we are investigating an exciting new immunotherapy treatment and we are optimising the best way to deliver it to children diagnosed with brain cancer to get the greatest effect,” says Dr Endersby.
With brain cancer ranking as the number one killer of young Australians by disease, Dr Endersby says funding for this work is critical because children diagnosed urgently need new treatments.
“This funding, and any additional research funding we can obtain, means that we can get our research achieved faster, and in turn we can advance these new treatments to the clinic more rapidly to help children with brain cancer,” she says.
Pirates to help kids with brain cancer
Help is on the way. Money raised through The Kids’ Cancer Project Pirate Day in 2021 will be directed specifically to Dr Endersby’s scientific investigation.
Pirate Day is a national day of swashbuckling for the serious cause of scientific research to find kinder, more effective cures for childhood brain cancer.
This year, the annual fundraiser will be held on Friday 14 May. But the young and young at heart are encouraged to dress up any day throughout Brain Cancer Awareness Month in May, to raise awareness and funds.
With a twinkle in her eye, Dr Endersby shares how she and her team will be getting involved.
“Shiver me timbers, me and my fellow scallywags will definitely be increasing awareness by getting our pirate gear on, but at the same time we’ll get all hands on deck in the lab to keep our research going,” she says.
On a more serious note, Dr Endersby explains why Pirate Day is so important to her and the team at Telethon Kids Institute.
“Pirate Day is an important way we can raise awareness about childhood brain cancer,” she shares.
“Many people are fortunate to not be personally affected by this disease, but for the families who are – it is devastating. We are committed to helping these children and their families by finding new treatments.”
“And by increasing the awareness of what these kids go through, Pirate Day will hopefully lead to more support for those families but also for our research.”