Research against childhood cancer that we fund: four major advances in 2020
- With the launch of our first Fight Kids Cancer call for projects, with the Belgian Kick Cancer Foundation and the Luxembourg Kriibskrank Kanner Foundation in January 2020, a new dimension is opening up for pediatric oncology research: researchers from all European countries are invited to propose their research projects, according to the lines set by the Fight Kids Cancer strategic committee, and they are then evaluated by the emeritus and international scientific committee of Fight Kids Cancer. This unique approach makes it possible both to identify the most promising research programs in Europe and to bring together the funds of several associations and foundations towards these programs, thus ensuring the impact of their funding. In 2020, the funds collected by our association, the Kick Cancer Foundation and the Kriibskrank Kanner Foundation were allocated to the six selected programs: 3,080,000 euros in total, of which 1,475,000 euros from Imagine for Margo. This call for projects intended to be renewed each year – the 2ndedition was launched in December 2020 – and other European associations and foundations being likely to join the initiative, in the long term, it is a new, more optimal way for associations and Foundations to finance research on childhood cancer.
- In September 2020, 5 new treatments were validated in the ESMART program that we have been co-financing since 2015, a unique trial in the world which covers all pediatric cancers that have relapsed or failed treatment. For sick children and their families, this means additional hope for a cure when standard treatments are not enough to reverse their cancer.
- The MAPPYACTS program that we co-funded and which ended in early 2020 has had a major impact on the treatment of relapsing pediatric cancers:
1. Following the promising results published and presented at several international conferences in 2019 and 2020, this unprecedented program has demonstrated the importance of sequencing the complete genome of children’s tumors to achieve a molecular portrait and guide the most appropriate treatments. Thus, in 2020, the sequencing was resumed as part of the France Genomic Medicine Plan and all children with an incurable malignant tumor will be able to continue to have access to the molecular characterization of their tumor in France. This is a major breakthrough in the personalized treatment of pediatric cancers!
2. All the data generated by sequencing analysisopen up new avenues of fundamental research: thanks to MAPPYACTS, 35 new programs have been validated by a scientific committee common to Gustave Roussy and the Institut Curie. They will help advance research in different areas: analysis of genetic predispositions, evaluation of response to treatment, immuno-labeling study, comparison with a liquid biopsy, studies of responses to treatment, analysis of equal access to new treatments… Thus, in 2020, a Cambridge team used data from MAPPYACTS to decipher the mechanisms of sensitivity of anaplastic large cell lymphomas in children to crizotinib. The results were published in BLOOD’s June 2020 Issue.
- Finally, during 2020, we allocated funds for the first international pediatric trial, the objective of which is to validate a treatment without chemotherapy for children with acute promyelocytic leukemia. Led by France at the Bordeaux University Hospital (Dr. Ducassou), it aims at offering an alternative to the current very toxic treatment which has high side effects, especially from a cardiac point of view.