Established in 1990 by the Reserve Bank and a group of Australia’s leading banks, the Foundation is singularly focused on raising funds for research into children’s health issues. This year we celebrate 28 years of the Foundation and the 244 pioneering research projects that it has supported.
At the 2017 Enchanted Ball, our guests witnessed an FMFC funded research project: ‘Designing the perfect killer (CAR) T cell for paediatric brain cancers’ by Dr. Misty Jenkins at the Walter and Eliza Hall Institute of Medical Research (WEHI).
Brain cancer kills more children than any other disease. Children with high-grade glioma have a <10% survival rate at five years, with no major improvements in decades.
Dr. Jenkins’ approach is on the cutting edge of much needed new and novel therapies. A form of immunotherapy (a powerful new weapon against cancer with impressive clinical benefits), the project uses Chimeric Antigen Receptor (CAR) T cells, which are genetically engineered killer cells, to target the tumour. Various receptor designs are characterised to determine which format promotes the maximum killing of cells with limited inflammation. In simple terms, the children’s own white blood cells are used, which gives them the machinery they need to recognise their own tumour and kill it. It has been engineered such that no healthy brain tissue is killed simultaneously.
Dr. Jenkins is working with paediatric neuro oncologist Dr. Jordan Hansford. Jordan is on the front line seeing families with children diagnosed with these cancers and he currently has little to no ‘good news’ for them. In the above video piece you will meet Dr. Jenkins, Dr. Hansford and Virginia Rea, an inspirational woman and mother who lost her 11-year-old daughter Pippa to an incurable brain stem tumour in 2015. Virginia is working with Dr. Hansford and tells her tragic story to highlight the urgent need for research and funds into these types of devastating childhood brain cancers.
We will present at the 2018 Enchanted Ball an FMFC research project to show our guests another of the many projects that the FMFC funds.
To find out more about the Foundation and the projects it funds, please visit foundationforchildren.com.au