As a Cancer ‘Moonshot’ Kicks Off, a Unique Organization Fights for the Kids

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(DGIwire) – In January 2016, President Obama signed a memorandum creating a White House task force on cancer—the first step in what Vice President Joe Biden has called a “moonshot” to cure the disease, according to The New York Times. The president appointed Biden to lead the panel, which will set a goal of doubling the rate of scientific progress toward prevention, treatment and cure.

The plan is to put the U.S. on a path to achieve in just five years research and treatment gains that otherwise might take a decade or more, officials quoted by the Times said. Although the memorandum does not commit the government to major new spending, the task force will focus on making the most of federal investments, targeted incentives, private sector efforts from industry and philanthropy, patient engagement initiatives and other mechanisms to support cancer research and enable progress in treatment and care.

“The emotional power behind the new cancer push comes from the vice president, whose son Beau died last year after a battle with brain cancer,” said John London, Co-Founder and Chair of New York City-based Solving Kids’ Cancer. “As a parent, he knows firsthand the anguish of losing a child to this terrible disease. Many parents of very young children have turned to our organization to work with us and help fund clinical studies and other initiatives with the best chance of making new treatments available sooner.”

Solving Kids’ Cancer (SKC) is a 501(c)(3) charity committed to significantly improving survivorship of the least-curable childhood cancers including neuroblastoma, sarcomas and brain tumors. All of its public donations are used to find, wisely invest in and manage clinical studies and scientific programs to rapidly develop effective treatment options. Over the last eight years, the organization has helped fund 27 projects, including seven preclinical studies (four of which led to further study) and 20 clinical studies. A total of 14 agents were validated for further use in combination with other drugs, 18 new treatment options were brought to the clinic and six new pathways for treatment were discovered or targeted for the first time.

To date, SKC has helped repurpose an anti-parasitic drug to be used as cancer therapy for children with neuroblastoma and medulloblastoma; helped introduce a pioneering category of immunotherapy cancer treatment using the oncolytic vaccinia virus as an anti-cancer agent for children with high-risk solid tumors; and helped establish a new category of immunotherapy using immune cells donated from a parent as a targeted anti-cancer treatment. And this is just a fraction of the impact Solving Kids’ Cancer has had on research.

Solving Kids’ Cancer maintains expertise on emerging translational and clinical research speaks to experts in the field about the future direction of research and connects families with resources for their child. The research funding model of Solving Kids’ Cancer is not a one-way street from donor to institution. The organization takes a hands-on approach to funding from the moment it receives applications for projects. It expects a return on investment, which is why it questions investigators about clinical study design, negotiates potentially effective improvements and scrutinizes research budgets, in the quest to identify and prioritize early breakthroughs.

“Our approach represents a departure from the traditional model of research philanthropy in childhood cancer,” adds Bungay-Balwah. “With our comprehensive understanding of the pediatric cancer landscape, we strive to identify areas of unmet need and strengthen the science. Improving survival rates is our only goal.”

To learn more about Solving Kids’ Cancer, please visit www.solvingkidscancer.org.

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