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19
Dec
2018

2018 Research Update

The last 12 months moved Cure Brain Cancer Foundation closer towards delivering on our vision of a cure for brain cancer. 

We helped catalyse global collaborations that built innovative treatment platforms to benefit patients and families impacted by brain cancer, both now, and in the future.

With your support, we awarded 8 research grants, totalling more than $2.1 million during 2018. This brings our total research investment to $18 million since 2013: 41 quality, impact-driven research projects. As part of this research investment, we also allocated $4.3 million to our $20 million commitment to the Australian Brain Cancer Mission – an Australian Government-backed plan to double brain cancer survival in 10 years. 

Cure Brain Cancer Foundation funds research across the entire research pathway, from basic science, to translational research, to clinical trials. We also fund research specifically looking at paediatric and adult brain cancers, recognising the unique challenges in both. This is why research is our greatest annual investment.

Bringing innovation to brain cancer

In 2018, Cure Brain Cancer Foundation’s Innovation Grants funded new research projects that deviate from existing paradigms and current lines of investigation. This allows investigators with a proven track record of success to explore novel ideas in brain cancer research. 

This year, we awarded two $200,000 Innovation Grants to projects led by Professor Andrew Scott from the Olivia Newton-John Cancer Research Institute and Associate Professor Lee Wong from Monash University. The gifted researchers were chosen following a competitive application process, by an international panel of experts for their ingenious projects, which have the potential to fuel much-needed breakthroughs and ultimately, improve brain cancer survival.

Building the foundations for success

In May 2018, Cure Brain Cancer Foundation extended its Capacity Building Program to include a new grant category, awarding two $400,000 Infrastructure Grants to Professor Bryan Day from the Translational Brain Cancer Research Laboratory at QIMR Berghofer, and Dr Guillermo Gomez from the University of South Australia. These teams of talented researchers collaborate across many institutes, providing teams around the country with the world-class resources they need to facilitate breakthroughs in brain cancer.

Clinical trials using immunotherapy

For the first time, Cure Brain Cancer Foundation offered a competitive grant round in 2018 specifically for a brain cancer immunotherapy trial. Cancers are generally expert at avoiding detection by the body’s immune system and immunotherapy treatments seek to overcome this, by triggering the body’s immune system to fight cancer. This grant cements Cure Brain Cancer Foundation’s commitment to bringing clinical trials to Australia, and in doing so, offers Australians with brain cancer more treatment options. 

In November 2018, a $500,000 Immunotherapy Clinical Trial Grant was awarded to Associate Professor Mustafa Khasraw for SEQUITUR, a clinical trial for patients with recurrent brain cancer or rare types of gliomas. This trial has a new design that will allow treatments to be evaluated faster and is expected to open at the end of 2019 or early 2020, with the aim of increasing brain cancer survival rates, which have barely improved in more than 30 years.

Australian kids among first to access new clinical trial

Australian children with aggressive brain cancer will be among the first to benefit from an international clinical trial for nivolumab; a new immunotherapy drug, which has shown promise in other aggressive cancers. Cure Brain Cancer Foundation will part-fund this new clinical trial for children with hypermutant brain cancer, led by Associate Professor David Ziegler. The trial is expected to open next year in Sydney, Brisbane and Adelaide, in partnership with the Australia and New Zealand’ Children’s Haematology/Oncology Group.

Providing hope to Australian kids with DIPG

Children with DIPG (Diffuse Intrinsic Pontine Glioma) will have access to cutting-edge experimental treatment, thanks to the launch of a new adaptive clinical trial called BIOMEDE. Previously, the only DIPG treatment available in Australia was very limited, with patients surviving an average of just nine months. BIOMEDE is the first adaptive clinical trial in Australia to analyse a child’s tumour to identify which of three drugs approved for the trial (erlotinib, everolimus and dasatinib) is most likely to be effective. This means the majority of trial participants will receive tailored treatment, based on the genetic profile of their tumour. 

The trial’s flexible ‘adaptive’ nature also means that new drugs can be added to it if they show increased promise. The trial is being run by Australia and New Zealand Children’s Haematology/Oncology Group in Australia and is being funded by a joint commitment of $400,000 from Cure Brain Cancer Foundation and The Isabella and Marcus Foundation. 

Cure Brain Cancer Foundation is also a proud foundational partner of the DIPG Collaborative, who recently awarded funding to Dr Maria Tsoli at the Children’s Cancer Institute to conduct vital research into new treatments for DIPG, for which no effective treatment is available. A cheque for almost $250,000 was presented in November this year by Cure Brain Cancer Foundation, The Cure Starts Now (Australia) and the Isabella and Marcus Foundation on behalf of 27 global DIPG Collaborative members. 

Brain and breast collaboration

This year, for the first time, Cure Brain Cancer Foundation and the National Breast Cancer Foundation have collaborated to announce a new $1 million high-impact research grant which spans both primary brain cancer and breast cancer and seeks to improve survival for people living with both diseases. The collaboration will encourage innovation and allow brain cancer researchers to build upon decades of work into breast cancer. The collaboration will also allow breast cancer researchers to leverage the knowledge of the brain – a common and fatal site for breast cancer metastasis. This funding will be awarded in 2019. 

We couldn’t have done it without you — thank you

Thanks to your support, we are moving closer towards meeting our mission of increasing five-year survival from 20 per cent to 50 per cent by 2023.

Together, we will find a cure.

Help fund vital brain cancer research