Quantcast
Connect with us

Inspirer

Inspirer

Spotlight on Childhood Cancer Awareness Month: Researchers

Health

Spotlight on Childhood Cancer Awareness Month: Researchers

September is Childhood Cancer Awareness Month. In honor of this Inspirer will be sharing a few articles throughout the month highlighting individuals making a difference in the world of pediatric cancer awareness.

Many are inclined to give extra support during Childhood Cancer Awareness Month but it can be overwhelming to sort through organizations and choose which ones are right for you. Are you interested in funding research? Would you like to know what projects your donation could benefit? How your donation could directly impact patients? Inspirer reached out to researchers from around the country in order to help you learn about some of the groundbreaking discoveries being made and how you can help.  We hope you enjoy learning about these incredible women and their work.

Joanna Kitlinska, PhD

Joanna Kitlinska, PhD
Associate Professor
Georgetown University Medical Center

Why did you choose to go into pediatric cancer research?
My initial involvement in pediatric cancer research was actually accidental. We were studying a neuronal protein that was highly expressed in two pediatric tumors – neuroblastoma and Ewing sarcoma. With time, these two childhood cancers became a focus of our work. It became clear to me how important and challenging the research on pediatric tumors is. These diseases are often devastating to children. Even if they are cured, the late effects of treatment can last for life. There are also not too many resources since the population of patients is small and big pharmaceutical companies are rarely interested in treating them.

What research are you working on?
We are studying the mechanisms of metastatic spread in neuroblastoma and Ewing sarcoma; the major cause of death in patients with these diseases. Our goal is to determine why some of these tumors gain the ability to metastasize, what the factors promoting cancer spread are and what allows tumor cells to survive in various metastatic sites. Once we discover this, we should be able to design treatments blocking these metastatic factors and in this way, target existing metastases and prevent further cancer spread.

Where can people donate to help fund this research?
Gifts can be mailed to:
Georgetown Lombardi Comprehensive Cancer Center
Office of Advancement
3300 Whitehaven Street, NW, Suite 4000
Washington, DC 20007

Made online by visiting lombardi.georgetown.edu/about/support/ways or made via phone by calling 202-687-2222.

Karen Gauvain, MD

Karen Gauvain, MD
Washington University Pediatric Hematologist and Oncologist
Siteman Kids at St. Louis Children’s Hospital

Why did you choose to go into pediatric cancer research?
Pediatric cancer patients and in particular brain tumor patients have always had a special place in my heart. Over the years I have witnessed the challenges the patients have faced when going through treatment life-threatening disease. I have seen the devastation that cancer brings to the parents and the entire family. It is only through research that we can improve the outcome and lives of our patients.

What research are you working on?
Karen Gauvain, MD, and David Limbrick, MD, Ph.D., are pursuing a CDI study to investigate the efficacy of using noninvasive lasers to treat kids with brain tumors. After using lasers to treat adults with brain tumors, Dr. Eric Leuthardt, a School of Medicine professor of neurosurgery, was able to demonstrate the four-week breakdown of the blood-brain barrier. The blood-brain barrier shields the brain from harmful toxins but also blocks potentially helpful drugs, such as chemotherapy.

The purpose of this CDI study is to examine the outcomes of pediatric patients with newly diagnosed and recurrent brain tumors who are treated with MRI-guided laser therapy and chemotherapy. This project is in collaboration with Dr. Eric Leuthardt, who pioneered this technology for the treatment of brain tumors that cannot be removed by surgery. The study will test whether this treatment works as well for children as it does for adults at treating the tumor and enhancing the infiltration of chemotherapy drugs as a result of blood-brain barrier disruption.

In another newly funded clinical trial in pediatric cancer research, Karen Gauvain, MD, Ph.D., pediatrics; and Gavin Dunn, MD, Ph.D., Neurosurgery, hope their study will lead to more effective treatments for children with recurrent brain tumors. Currently, very few options are available, especially for malignant brain tumors. This project is the first-ever clinical trial to treat pediatric patients experiencing relapsed or recurrent brain tumors with a personalized vaccine — referred to as a peptide vaccine — developed by targeting genetic abnormalities in each individual tumor. The researchers will benefit from the School of Medicine’s emergence as a world leader in developing personalized vaccines to fight cancer.

Where can people donate to help fund this research?
Click here and choose Research from the drop down menu of Fund Designations.

 

Theresa Keegan, Ph.D., MS

Theresa Keegan, Ph.D., MS
Associate Professor
Division of Hematology and Oncology UC Davis Comprehensive Cancer Center

Why did you choose to go into pediatric cancer research?
I have chosen to focus my work on adolescent and young adult cancer research because this group has not experienced the survival gains enjoyed by younger or older cancer patients over the past two decades and, until more recently, has not been the focus of dedicated research like childhood and older adult cancer survivors. These survival disparities are thought to relate to a number of factors, such as access to health care, lower socioeconomic status, delays in diagnosis or treatment, differences in disease biology, lower participation in clinical trials or increased toxicities. At UC Davis, we have a team of clinicians and scientists dedicated to improving outcomes in this population.

What research are you working on?
I am currently working on St. Baldrick’s Research Grant supported by the Rich and Weissman Family Lymphoma and Survivorship Fund. We know from prior studies that over 82% of adolescent and young adult cancer survivors are living at least 5 years after their cancer diagnosis and have an elevated risk of medical problems resulting from their curative cancer therapy. Most data on late medical conditions have come from childhood cancer survivors, with studies finding that the majority of these long- term survivors develop at least one adverse medical condition, such as second malignancies, cardiovascular disease, respiratory complications, or renal and endocrine dysfunction. However, there is limited data on serious medical conditions occurring among young adult cancer survivors, and risks for medical conditions will vary by treatment exposures that differ by type cancer, age at treatment and other patient factors. Our study is unique in that it will take into account both clinical factors, such as cancer type, stage and treatment, and sociodemographic factors, such as race/ethnicity, health insurance, and socioeconomic status, in cancer survivors treated across California. The goal of this research is to identify when serious medical conditions occur and what subgroups of patients are particularly at risk. For example, we are not only interested in determining if cancer survivors with certain types of cancers and associated treatments are at higher risk, but also whether socioeconomic or health insurance barriers to receiving important follow-up care and treatment impact risk. This information is critical to informing the development of survivorship care guidelines for adolescent and young adult cancer survivors. Our hope is that the findings from this research will guide prevention and early detection of these serious medical conditions in order to improve the length and quality of life of young cancer survivors.

Where can people donate to help fund this research?
Donations can be given online (http://www.ucdmc.ucdavis.edu/giving/) or sent to the division at:
Division Manager (Donation)
Hematology & Oncology
4501 X Street
Suite 3016
Sacramento, CA 95817

Comments

comments

Continue Reading

Annie is a photographer and artist currently residing outside of Philadelphia. She has a degree in media design from the MTSU School of Journalism and got her start doing graphic and merchandise design for the NYC theatre community. She spends most of her free time traveling to theatre, concerts, or creating art. She has an unquenchable thirst to explore all things abandoned and old. Annie also answers to the name of Yoda (a favorite nickname amongst family and friends)

1 Comment

1 Comment

  1. Pingback: Spotlight on Childhood Cancer Awareness Month: Researchers – Anniemgo – Annie Govekar

Leave a Reply

More in Health

Advertisement

Subscribe

Latest News

ella
Ta'Rhonda
Stevie Nicks

Subscribe to Inspirer's Newsletter

* = required field
Advertisement
To Top
%d bloggers like this: