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The Hospital for Sick Children (SickKids) is recognized as one of the world's foremost paediatric health-care institutions and is Canada’s leading centre dedicated to advancing children’s health.  Founded in 1875 and affiliated with the University of Toronto, SickKids is one of Canada’s most research intensive hospitals. SickKids Initiative for first ever clinical trial. SickKids believes in the strength and impact of partnerships. And this belief is being realized through the introduction of first-in-Canada DIPG clinical trials set to open at SickKids. With trials comes the hope of new therapeutic opportunities for children with DIGP and other brain tumours.

Advancements in DIPG research and Clinical Trials

 Confirmed Clinical Trial:

HARNESSING THE IMMUNE SYSTEM WITH A VACCINE Immunotherapy, particularly active vaccinations, has the potential to be an effective and safe modality for patients with DIPG. This new treatment uses a vaccine to educate the immune system to attack the brain tumour cells that have a specific mutation, known as H3.3. Doctors will administer this vaccine along with a targeted drug to help boost the body`s immune system activity.

The Study:

The H3K27 mutation is a founder mutation in peadiatric DIPG. It is still very unclear how this genetic mutation corrupts the behaviour of normal brain cells to cause cancer. They suspect that this gene, in cooperation with a few others, causes normal brain cells to behave like brain stem cells are locked in a stem cell state, being unable to mature and therefore to never stop growing. The Dirks lab has been studying  normal brain cells to test how this mutation leads to DIPG. They have been using CRISPR based gene editing to engineer this mutation and other DIPG-associated mutations in normal cells. Establishing this model will help them to identify the earliest steps of cancer initiation and progression and to identify the features of DIPG stem cells that render them refractory to treatment. They have made substantial progress in characterizing normal brain cells that may give rise to the disease and in the technical steps needed to edit in the mutation. They are now on the threshold of establishing a critical unique and powerful model to understand DIPG from its earliest steps. They are starting to see changes in cell growth patterns and cell shapes with the engineered mutations. Understanding these early processes of transformation of normal cells into cancer are essential to understanding the nature of this cancer and to develop new treatments..

They have also been evaluating new clinical opportunities, to bring new approaches to DIPG patient treatment. Their clinical approach is focussed on novel drug treatments and novel delivery and sampling approaches that they hope will allow us to better treat patients and to understand this disease.

Clinical Trials Project Coordinator:

Clinical trials offer great promise, but they are also complex and arduous for patients, families and staff. Generous donations have supported the role of Clinical Trials Project Coordinator. Shelly Campos, who works with the oncology team of physicians, nurses, project managers and other project coordinators to lead in initiating, planning and organizing clinical trial studies from start to finish. This involves important work like developing, writing and presenting protocol, coordinating safety details with the Research and Ethics Board, setting up trial sites, liaising with physicians and researchers, and verifying data collection details. The role of Clinical Trials Project Coordinator is paramount to the success of DIPG trials, and critical to moving them ahead effectively and safely. 

Clinical Trials & Infrastructure Innovation Fund 

*(this is personal family funding that is allocated to this fund)

SickKids CONDUCTS MORE CLINICAL TRIALS THAN ANY OTHER PAEDITATRIC CENTRE IN CANADA, and the number continues to increase year over year. With each new trial there are new possibilities for patient-targeted treatments for disease with no cure, like DIPG. Support of the Clinical Trials & Infrastructure Innovation Fund assists SickKids to take advantage of these opportunities and execute these trials with the utmost precision, safety and ethical integrity.

Funding in this area will support the first-in-Canada DIPG clinical trials.

We are those parents who received the devastating news that our 9 year old child had a brain tumour called DIPG; a diagnosis with no effective treatment for over the past 50 years and that her diagnosis would be terminal.  Words which echo in our minds and hearts daily, and words we hope, though the efforts of our Foundation, will be the catalyst to change this reality for other DIPG children and parents in the future.

 

Donate to Jordana's DIPG research fund at SickKids Foundation.