RESEARCHERS TO DEVELOP ALK-BASED IMMUNOTHERAPY FOR NEUROBLASTOMA
The Ronan Thompson Foundation and Solving Kids’ Cancer award $100,000 grant to fund new therapeutic to treat children with neuroblastoma
New York, New York – November 30, 2012 – The Ronan Thompson Foundation and Solving Kids’ Cancer have announced a charity partnership to jointly sponsor breakthrough clinical research of a new therapeutic antibody for neuroblastoma. Together, they will award $100,000 to the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP) with the goal of improving survival for children with neuroblastoma, a deadly cancer that usually strikes infants and preschoolers.
This promising research will be conducted by CHOP physician-scientist Yael Mosse, M.D., who garnered international attention for her discovery of a mutation in the ALK (anaplastic lymphoma kinase) gene that occurs in some neuroblastomas. Changes, or mutations, in the ALK gene play a role in the growth of cancer cells and has also been linked to lung cancer and lymphoma. Researchers believe that an ALK antibody will directly target the tumor cells and also help the immune system to attack the cancer, reducing the risk of a future recurrence. The plan is to use the ALK monoclonal antibody in combination with an ALK inhibitor to benefit more patients. The ALK mutation only occurs in about 10 percent of neuroblastomas, but ALK expression is found on 90 percent of neuroblastomas. Recent early-phase research conducted in the lab showed that an antibody targeting ALK expression kills neuroblastoma cells.
“By working together, we can make the world a better place for children and their families who have been affected by neuroblastoma by bringing together the best doctors, research and treatments,” said Maya Thompson, the Founder of the Ronan Thompson Foundation. “We are very excited to be partnering with Solving Kid’s Cancer in supporting the work of Dr. Yael Mosse and her colleagues at CHOP to help find a cure for this disease.”
Work is now under way with an industry partner to generate and screen potential anti-ALK antibodies with the goal of commercial production. The Ronan Thompson Foundation and Solving Kids’ Cancer will commit the $100,000 joint funding to develop the antibody and required testing to bring this promising new treatment option to the clinic for children. The hope is that a small-scale clinical trial will quickly prove the therapy’s safety and effectiveness for use in trials throughout the U.S. and Europe.
“This collaboration is an example of pediatric cancer charities coming together to quickly bring the best, most innovative treatments to our children and ultimately improve survival for this deadly pediatric cancer,” said Scott Kennedy, the Executive Director of Solving Kids’ Cancer.