More than 4,000 children are diagnosed with a brain tumor each year. Malignant brain tumors are the second most common form of childhood cancer, and are the leading cause of cancer-related death for children under 10 years old and second leading cause of cancer-related death in all children under 20 years old.
The average five-year survival rate for all children with a malignant brain tumor is 66%, but for the more aggressive high-grade gliomas, chances of long-term survival are less than 20%.
Unfortunately, little progress has been made in improving survival rates for the most deadly of pediatric brain tumors, including high-grade gliomas, in the past four decades.
National Brain Tumor Society is committed to directing one-third of its research budget to pediatric-specific initiatives, and has previously undertaken fruitful initiatives in both pediatric brain tumor molecular profiling and developmental neurobiology, which respectively made important contributions to the field of pediatric brain tumor research.
Our newest pediatric initiative will leverage this increase in knowledge, and actively develop a program to address barriers to progress within the drug discovery and development pipeline through a multi-faceted and focused effort to advance research toward new treatments for pediatric brain tumor patients.
PROJECT IMPACT: DRIVING DISCOVERY TO A CURE FOR PEDIATRIC BRAIN TUMORS
In order to advance the field of pediatric brain tumor research, the National Brain Tumor Society has determined that we need to create systemic change in the way new treatments are being discovered, developed, and tested.
Project Impact is the National Brain Tumor Society's new, multi-faceted initiative to address the key interrelated barriers that are slowing drug development for pediatric brain tumors, specifically high-grade gliomas.
Project Impact will combine efforts in funded research and public policy to confront inefficiencies that currently exist in both the pediatric brain tumor pre-clinical research system and pediatric cancer clinical trial environment. This integration will also allow us to bring the power of public policy and the funding potential together to drive the scientific research forward in a way that can have greater impact than a research funding program alone. Together, these efforts will seek to optimize the entire pediatric brain cancer drug discovery and development pipeline and create significant advances in treatment options for children with brain tumors.
As per all of our major initiatives, a team of leading external experts are also helping guide Project Impact led by:
- Dr. Suzanne Baker, PhD, Co-leader, Neurobiology and Brain Tumor Program - St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital
- Dr. Maryam Fouladi, MD, MSc, FRCPC, Medical Director, Neuro-Oncology Program - Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center
- Dr. Roger J. Packer, MD, Senior Vice President, The Center for Neuroscience and Behavioral Medicine, Director, Brain Tumor Institute (Neuro-Oncology Program) - Children’s National Medical Center
Read a summary from the most recent Working Group meeting on Project Impact, here.
This initiative helped identify potential treatment targets for a number of pediatric brain tumors. Comprehensive molecular profiling utilizes the latest cutting-edge tools and technologies to help researchers understand the molecular underpinnings of pediatric brain tumors, and helps determine precision therapies that might be effective against those specific tumor types.
Developmental neurobiology is essential to understanding normal brain developmental processes and how these relate to tumor formation and growth. Developmental neurobiology may also help speed the development of treatments to effectively fight tumors with minimal adverse affects to continuing normal brain development so critical for pediatric patients.
Together, studies in comprehensive molecular profiling and developmental neurobiology result in a much more complete picture of the biological targets to focus on in drug discovery and development.