$7 million raised for pediatric cancer research marks Curing Kids Cancer 10th anniversary
July 27, 2015
Since its creation in 2005, Curing Kids Cancer has raised more than $7 million to fund groundbreaking programs and childhood cancer research to make childhood cancer curable in our lifetime.
Killian Owen, the inspiration for Curing Kids Cancer, was five years old when he was diagnosed with leukemia. He battled cancer for four and half years. Doctors told Killian’s parents, Grainne and Clay, that there was a potential cure for Killian’s cancer but there was a lack of funding to get it into treatment. Killian passed away when he was nine.
“After Killian died, we dedicated ourselves to finding new cutting edge therapies for childhood cancer,” said Grainne Owen, founder and executive director of Curing Kids Cancer. “It’s hard for me to believe that this is our 10th anniversary and I’m incredibly happy that we’ve been able to raise over $7 million to support childhood cancer research that I believe one day will make traditional chemotherapy obsolete.”
A revolutionary new treatment that Curing Kids Cancer funds uses genetically modified cells from the child’s own immune system to treat the most common type of leukemia (ALL). Dr. Stephan Grupp at The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia takes T-cells, a type of immune cell, from the patient and then re-engineers the T-cells using a virus so that the T-cells recognize and kill the leukemia cells.
“The children who receive this treatment are receiving it as a last resort because all other standard treatments have failed,” said Owen. “Despite how sick the children are when they receive it, this particular therapy still has a 90 percent success rate. That is one reason why I truly believe that this is the future for pediatric cancer treatment. The technology, biology, medicine and genetics have all come together at the right time.”
Some of the other research Curing Kids Cancer supports includes:
- Funding the training of pediatric oncologist Dr. Eric Schafer at Texas Children’s Cancer Center in the pharmacology of childhood cancer. The training makes Schafer one of only six doctors in the country trained to understand the ways new drugs can work for children who suffer from cancer. The work of Schafer in this facet of cancer treatment could help to make traditional chemotherapy, and its harsh side effects, a thing of the past.
- Building upon groundbreaking work that identified the genetics of Ewing’s Sarcoma, a childhood bone cancer, Curing Kids Cancer is supporting research with zebra fish at University of Texas Southwestern Children’s Hospital conducted by Dr. James Amatruda.
- Supporting Dr. Andrew Lane of Dana-Farber Cancer Institute to continue research into why children with Down syndrome have a 20 times higher risk of developing acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL). Lane has tracked the genetic chain of events that links a chromosomal abnormality in Down syndrome to the development of ALL and he discovered it is the same abnormality that causes children who do not have Down syndrome to develop ALL!
To fund the research, Curing Kids Cancer raises money through partnerships with sports teams at local and national levels. One of the most successful programs is “Blow the Whistle on Kids Cancer!” where Curing Kids Cancer partners with SEC football teams to make fans aware that September is National Childhood Cancer Awareness Month.
Curing Kids Cancer also raises funds through corporate sponsorships such as AT&T and CFO4Life, community involvement, and support from national sports figures including ESPN’s Lee Corso and MLB closing pitcher Craig Kimbrel, and the powerhouse Mecum Auction Company, the world leader of collector car, motorcycle and road art sales. Visit curingkidscancer.org to learn more.