Hope for Autumn Foundation provides financial ASSISTANCE for families of Alabama battling childhood cancer, supports innovative childhood cancer RESEARCH through the Developmental Therapeutics Program at Children’s of Alabama, a cutting edge research and treatment program for children with incurable cancers, and increases community AWARENESS of childhood cancer through the #givehope program in schools and businesses.
Unfortunately very little progress has been made in the treatment of especially aggressive cancers such as metastatic tumors, high-risk leukemias, and many relapsed malignancies. And many children who ultimately survive cancer may still experience substantial immediate and/or long term complications from chemotherapy, radiation, and surgery. The inability to cure so many children with cancer is not acceptable. New and more tolerable therapies are desperately needed for pediatric oncology patients.
The mission of the Pediatric Oncology Developmental Therapeutics Program is to study new treatments for childhood cancer. Our goal is to identify and develop therapies that will improve patient survival and decrease side-effects. Through this work we are able to offer cutting-edge therapies to children and young adults with difficult to treat cancers. Most patientsof the Developmental Therapeutics Program have relapsed or treatment-resistant tumors that have failed standard therapies. Other patients may be diagnosed with unusual tumors for which no effective therapies have been established. Typically, referred patients have no known curative therapies available to them. They have often suffered through aggressive chemotherapy regimens, radiation treatments, and multiple surgeries only to have the cancer recur.
The UAB Pediatric Oncology Developmental Therapeutics Program offers hope to such children and their families through experimental clinical trials. Most such studies focus on new medicines that have not been previously utilized in children but have been proven to be promising for pediatric cancer based on laboratory research or clinical trials of adult cancer patients. Currently, most new therapies that are being studied are ‘targeted’ treatments which have a more specific effect on cancer cells than traditional chemotherapy and radiation. As a result of this targeted approach, these medicines may be more tolerable than conventional therapies. In fact, we find that most children treated with targeted therapies tolerate these therapies better than the standard treatments, allowing them to maintain a good quality of life that includes school attendance and other normal activities.
The primary focus of our program is our participation in the Children’s Oncology Group (COG) Phase I and Pilot Consortium. Together, UAB and Children’s Hospital are one of only 21 institutions in North America to participate in this prestigious consortium. This membership allows our patients access to innovative therapies not widely available. We also work with the Sarcoma Alliance for Research through Collaboration (SARC) which undertakes clinical trials of sarcomas which are tumors of the muscle, bone, and other connective tissues in the body. Such tumors, especially when metastatic or relapsed, are often exceptionally resistant to conventional treatments. We also are working with pharmaceutical companies such as Novartis and Genzyme to study new therapeutic agents that have not been previously evaluated in children. Finally, we are also working closely with the fertile scientific community at UAB to develop new treatments for childhood cancers. Ongoing collaborations include laboratory projects to identify effective strategies meriting further study in children with recurrent and resistant cancers. We are also developing and conducting of clinical trials of promising new agents or combinations of agents to treat pediatric cancers including rhabdomyosarcoma, osteosarcoma, and neuroblastoma.