MANY BRAINS ARE
better than one
Thanks to your support of Connor’s Run we have been able to invest in world class research and development.
You are helping change the odds for young people with brain cancer. Look what you’ve done and continue to help us do... Go you!
RESEARCH THAT REALLY
Makes a difference
RCD Foundation Investment during
2021 & 2022
AIM BRAIN PROJECT
Informing better treatment options
AU $2 million total investment (RCDF $333,000) over 3 years + now a further $300,000 to translate.
Our foundation has partnered with the Federal Government and Carries Beanies 4 Brain Cancer to validate new diagnostic test for patients with brain cancer, that changes the diagnosis and treatment in up to 20% of cases.
The test has been thoroughly validated through a clinical study involving sites across Australia and New Zealand. Results were benchmarked against gold standard testing in Germany and achieved 99% concordance. It involves profiling modifications to the tumours DNA which affect its activity (called DNA methylation profiling) to more specifically diagnosis the type of tumour at a molecular level.
Together with the new Brain Centre at WEHI, RCD is now committing more funds to support the translation of this important test into the Victorian Clinical Genetic Services at the Royal Children’s Hospital so that every child in Australian and New Zealand with a brain tumour can have access to the best available diagnostic test. For it to be fully implemented as a standard of care test we are seeking additional support from other funders.
If you are interested in becoming a funding partner please contact us here.
Olivia Phelan, 21
RCD Foundation Legacy Ambassador
THE ROBERT CONNOR DAWES FOUNDATION
Clinical Trials Program
Providing hope through funding clinical trials for children and adolescents with recurrent or progressive High-Grade Glioma.
AU $10 million total investment in clinical trials program ($1,250,000 RCDF) over 5 years.
As part of RCD Foundation's commitment to the Australian Brain Cancer Mission (ABCM), it has partnered with Love For Lachie and The Cure Brain Cancer Foundation to fund the Australian participation in the international NICHE-HGG (PNOC-019) trial for children and adolescents with recurrent or progressive High-Grade Glioma. The trial investigates the effectiveness of two different immunotherapic agents, is open at four children's cancer centres in Australia currently with more trial sites to follow soon. The trial will also soon recruit patients at hospitals across the US and internationally in Switzerland and Israel. This is the first clinical trial developed by the Pacific Paediatric Neuro-Oncology Consortium (PNOC) to open here and Australian participation we hope will lead to more opportunities to bring other global cancer trials to Australian children with cancer. This trial is only the first of many more that RCD fund through the Australian and New Zealand Hematology and Oncology Group (ANZCHOG).
Pictured: Dr. Nick Gottardo, ANZCHOG Study Chair
IDENTIFICATION OF NEW THERAPEUTIC TARGETS INVOLVED
in childhood high grade gliomas (HGG)
AU $462,266 for two fellowships over 4 years
In collaboration with the CHIVERS family, RCD funded a research fellow at the Hudson Medical Institute to characterise and screen a cohort of over 30 childhood high grade glioma models for new therapeutic targets, as part of a large international collaboration with the Children's Brain Tumour Network (CBTN) and other groups. Already, in the first two years, this project has yielded significant discoveries, with a number of druggable targets identified, specific to childhood brain tumours as compared to adult brain cancers. Next steps are validating these effects in animal models before progressing into human trials for which a second fellowship has now been funded for another two years.
AU $99,000 total scholarship (RCD $49,500) over three years
In a separate project RCD with the Pirate Ship Foundation, cofunds a PhD student at the Telethon Kids Institute in Perth to fully understand the role of a protein called ErbB4, which has already been shown to be associated with poor prognosis for DMG (previously called DIPG) and glioblastoma high activity levels. At the end of the first year, the expression of different forms of this protein have been identified and characterised in 16 patient-derived cell lines. Next steps are to understand the signalling pathways which this protein is involved in and how it contributes to events causing healthy cells to turn into cancerous ones in these tumours.
Pictured: Leigh, Sara, Hudson and Alfie Chivers
ROBERT CONNOR DAWES RESEARCH PROGRAM
Developing the latest immunotherapy for glioblastomas
AU $500,000 over 5 years.
Our immunotherapy project with the Jenkin’s Laboratory at Walter and Eliza Hall Institute of Medical Research (WEHI), has achieved some very promising results in which glioblastomas in mice were cured with white blood cells which were genetically modified (Chimeric Antigen Receptor (CAR) T cells) to specifically recognise a particular cancer marker on the surface of the tumour cells (EGFRVIII). This therapy not only killed the cancer cells leaving the healthy surrounding cells, but the mice remained cancer free for four months once the tumours were cleared. These significant results continue to progress the technology forward towards translation into humans.
Pictured: Dr. Misty Jenkins, WEHI
To provide hope
We're joining forces with the Children’s Cancer Institute (CCI) to augment their brain cancer efforts within the Zero Childhood Cancer Program
RCDF supported Zero Childhood Cancer Program at the Children’s Cancer Institute (NSW), which combines the latest medical, technological, and research available to provide hope to children with rare and aggressive cancers where there is currently little or no treatment options. Our funding has contributed to approximately, 200 children with high-risk brain tumours being enrolled in a national clinical trial as well as 148 tumour samples which have been stored and used in high throughout drug screens and developing animal models with a view to finding new therapeutics.
Pictured: A/Prof David Ziegler, Children's Cancer Institute
CARING ABOUT THE KIDS
Music Matters Grants
Music is more than just fun and relaxing, it can have a profound impact on our brains. Music therapy is the evidence-based use of music to accomplish individualised treatment goals. It can help with learning.
Through its use of shared networks in the brain, music can target speech & motor deficits. It can help to improve memory and attention, as well as enhance psychological coping. Music therapy is non-invasive and is motivating, both of which help the heart sing and the brain heal.
DEVELOPING THE PEOPLE & INFRASTRUCTURE
To perform world class research
BUILDING & MAINTAINING AUSTRALIAN EXPERTISE IN MOLECULAR ONCOLOGY
Smarter, more tailored treatments
AU $196,278 over 2 years
Together with the GRACE MONEY family, we are supporting a molecular oncologist position at The Royal Children’s Hospital, Melbourne. This funding allows brain tumours to be accurately classified according to their genetic signature, which, in some cases, influences treatment options. It also advances research into more precise, individualised treatments for children with solid and/or brain tumours. As a direct result of funding this position, the RCH will increase its participation in brain cancer and/or solid tumour paediatric and adolescent clinical trials beyond the trials currently open.
Pictured: Liam and Grace Money
SUPPORTING YOUNG RESEARCHERS
To advance knowledge
Supporting young paediatric brain cancer researchers to advance our basic knowledge of tumour formation in paediatric high-grade gliomas (HHG).
AU $90,000 over 3 years
The PhD project funded by GIDEON GRATZER family, aims to identify and validate new druggable targets for paediatric HHGs. It focuses on a biological molecule that allows damaged cells and those with genetic changes which would normally be destroyed and removed from the normal population to survive and become cancerous. By stopping the action of this molecule, we can potentially prevent tumour growth, also allow those tumour cells to undergo the natural programmed cell death. In its second year, it has already confirmed the role of this molecule in paediatric tumour cell lines.
Pictured: Gideon Gratzer and Rebecca Goldstein
PARTNERING FOR IMPACT
Working towards effective, targeted treatment for ependymoma
US$200,000 (RCD $100,000) 2 years per fellowship
The CERN Robert Connor Dawes Fellowship Scientific Fellowship is an international open competitive grant awarded by the National Brain Tumor Society. The 2020 recipient, Dr Chan Chung at the University of Michigan, investigated the role of a specific protein called EZHIP, thought to be important for tumour growth. His work not only demonstrated increased metabolic activity in ependymomas in the hindbrain involving this protein but also by targeting it with an anti-diabetes drug this effect could be attenuated in animal models, indicating therapeutic potential.
We now proudly congratulate the 2022 Fellowship recipient, Dr Kendra Maass, based at the Hopp Children’s Tumor Center Heidelberg (KiTZ) and German Cancer Research Center (DKFZ). She is studying the cellular transport pathways in which Ependymoma cancer cells can spread via the blood to other sites in the body. By better understanding and characterising the role of extracellular vesicles in Ependymoma metastases, Dr Maass hopes to identify points in the transport pathway which can be targeted to stop the spread of the cancerous cells. She will also apply the new knowledge to evaluate if these ependymoma specific transport vesicles can be used to improve diagnosis specificity using molecular markers to subgroup ependymomas and separately if they offer any prognostic value as a surrogate marker.
Pictured: Dr. Kendra Mass, Hopp Children’s Tumor Center Heidelberg (KiTZ) and German Cancer Research Center (DKFZ)
ENABLING THE BRIGHTEST & BEST MINDS TO CONVERGE
& advance global paediatric brain cancer research
We continue to support knowledge exchange to advance the field, by sponsoring leading international conferences including the Australian and New Zealand Children’s Haematology and Oncology Group (ANZCHOG) annual scientific conference, the International Scientific Paediatric Neuro Oncology (ISPNO) conference and a smaller meeting of world expertise in Ependymoma in Cambridge in 2022.
SHAPING THE LANDSCAPE
for paediatric brain cancer clinical trials
US$50,000 per year.
This year RCD became a funding partner of the COllaborative Network for Neuro-oncology Clinical Trials. Involving nineteen hospitals and institutions across Australia, North America and Europe, CONNECT, conducts clinical trials in high-risk paediatric brain tumours to investigate combinations of novel drugs with traditional therapies. It provides a unique, agile platform for basic science discoveries to be rapidly tested around the globe. As a funder, we contribute to enabling infrastructure, ensuring participation from Australia and America and the evolution of an operational framework meeting theunmet needs across the globe.
SUPPORTING CRITICAL AUSTRALIAN TISSUE BANK RESOURCES TO ENABLE
world class research into paediatric brain tumours
AU $40,000 over two years
Tumour tissue samples are vital to understanding how paediatric brain cancers occur, spread and how to treat them, especially given the differences between the types and heterogeneity even within a single tumour type and individual patient. RCD continues to contribute funding to the Children’s Cancer Centre Tissue Bank based at the Murdoch Children’s Research Institute which collects tissues from patients at the Royal Children’s Hospital for research purposes. Samples are shared with other research institutions locally, nationally and internationally to facilitate more than 20 projects.
CONTRIBUTING & INFLUENCING CUTTING EDGE RESEARCH
on a global scale
RCD is an active member of the DIPG Collaborate, Collaborative Ependymoma Research Network (CERN) and Children’s Brain Tumour Network (CBTN). RCD represents the Australian funding community, stays abreast of the latest research, participates in funding and determining proprieties. The networks expedite high quality research through strong global collaboration. We recently cofounded a project through the DIPG Collaborate which collectively invested approximately US$4,000,000 in research in 2021. RCD also supported a National Institutes of Health (NIH) funding application through the SPORE program to determine the genetic sequence of more than 1,500 paediatric brain tumour specimens and more than 3,000 germline samples which was awarded to CBTN in 2021. This critical data will be available to other global researchers to mine for potential new insights into the biology of childhood brain cancer.
RCD also worked with the CERN Foundation and the National Brain Tumor Society to develop the Ependymoma Key Issues document, which was featured in Brain Tumour magazine, published by the International Brain Tumour Alliance (IBTA) and provided resources for Ependymoma Awareness Day.
PRIORITISING RESEARCH CHALLENGES
in paediatric brain cancer
The RCD Foundation and The Kids Cancer Project (TKCP) co-hosted a meeting in Melbourne in May, attracting clinical and academic researchers and other interested parties from across most states to identify the current challenges and suggest potential solutions. These were collated in a report and the actions allocated to willing parties.
We also facilitated a big data workshop in March between interested Australian pediatric brain cancer researchers and our colleagues at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia and Childrens Brain Tumour Network (CBTN) who are world leaders in this field. We had representatives from ten different organisations/institutes across Australia. By comparing Australia and the US teams’ capabilities and capacity we were clearly able to articulate gaps, challenges and opportunities. RCD hopes further discussions will shape one of the large collaborative projects we will invest in the near future.