International neuroblastoma research initiative 2019
Solving Kids’ Cancer issued a joint 2019 International Challenge Grant Call for £500,000 awarded over three years, alongside Solving Kids' Cancer in New York, Joining Against Cancer in Kids (J-A-C-K), ZOE4LIFE, Merryn Lacy Trust, and the Oscar Knox Fund.
Our 2019 Request for Applications (RFA) was a research call for improvement in survival of patients with refractory, indolent neuroblastoma. This sub-type, which is clinically and biologically recognised, is typically associated with slow or no response to chemotherapy followed by a prolonged disease course that leads to a poor outcome. This RFA sought proposals focused on cohort discovery, therapeutic classification and pre-clinical proposals to underpin clinical trials or clinical trials.
Significance of this Grant Call
Recognising that children with refractory neuroblastoma are generally treated in non-specific early phase trials for 'children with relapsed or refractory neuroblastoma', this initiative is an attempt to bring concerted focus and effort to a clinically well-known sub-group of patients whose journey most commonly involves enrolment on multiple early phase studies with limited evidence of benefit.
While many such children sadly go on to experience disease progression at some point leading to them succumbing to their disease, others respond unexpectedly to various experimental therapies, and some go on to become long-term survivors despite never achieving radiological remission by current standard imaging assessments.
Given the small proportion of children whose disease exhibits such characteristics, only an international effort can provide access to enough children to enable a breakthrough to be made.
Unlike almost all other early phase studies we are specifically inviting proposals for primary refractory neuroblastoma, with intent to try to establish how these children can be identified as early as possible, discover what is it about their disease that marks it out as being chemoresistant, and ultimately, use such information to find more effective treatments for this group of children and change how they are treated from the outset.
While we recognise that motivation for continued treatment intensification is to try to cure more children, our focus is on those children whose disease is currently among the most difficult to treat successfully - not only to improve their outcomes but also move closer to a day where each child receives the treatment they need to cure their own neuroblastoma and nothing more in an effort to cure other children’s.
Outcome of this Grant Call
Through this grant call we funded two pioneering projects that will focus on refractory neuroblastoma; Solving Indolent Neuroblastoma, and Optimizing Immunotherapy for Refractory neuroblastoma. Read more about them below.