Zero Childhood Cancer program comes to WA

By LabOnline Staff
Friday, 10 November, 2017

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The Zero Childhood Cancer program — said to be one of the world’s most comprehensive child cancer personalised medicine studies — has finally reached Western Australia, seven weeks after its national launch.

Led by the Children’s Cancer Institute and the Kids Cancer Centre at Sydney Children’s Hospital, Randwick, Zero Childhood Cancer recognises that each child’s cancer is unique; thus, they respond differently to anticancer treatment. Now, scientists from 13 Australian and international research institutes and doctors from all eight of Australia’s kids’ cancer centres are working together to identify and recommend new treatment options, specifically tailored to suit the individual cancers of children with the most aggressive cancers whose chance of survival on standard treatments is less than 30%.

More than 250 Australian children, and an estimated 25 Western Australian children, will be enrolled in the program over the next three years. The WA trial is being rolled out by Princess Margaret Hospital for Children (PMH) in partnership with the Telethon Kids Cancer Centre at Telethon Kids Institute.

Dr Nick Gottardo, head of the Paediatric Oncology and Haematology Department at PMH, said the Zero Childhood Cancer program is a potential game changer in how we treat high-risk cancer.

“Despite the dramatic increase in childhood cancer survival rates over the last 60 years from virtually 0 to 80%, three children and adolescents die every week in Australia from cancer,” he said. “It’s hoped this trial will increase survival rates for children with the highest risk of treatment failure or relapse and give their families hope.”

Professor Michelle Haber AM, executive director of the Children’s Cancer Institute and research lead for Zero Childhood Cancer, said personalised treatment gives kids with the most aggressive cancers the best chance of surviving their disease because it is based on reliable scientific information, such as individual genetic mutations, unique to that child’s cancer.

“Using the latest molecular profiling techniques and laboratory testing of patient cancer cells with anticancer drugs, Zero Childhood Cancer will give the most detailed diagnosis possible in Australia to date for children with the most aggressive cancers,” she said. “It is one of the most complex and comprehensive personalised medicine programs in the world.”

The trial will be open to every Australian child with high-risk childhood cancer, regardless of the underlying type/diagnosis. The program is free to those children who meet the clinical trial enrolment criteria and enrol through their treating oncologist. Data from the program will be shared with all clinical and research partners around Australia, in Europe and USA.

To find out more about the trial, visit

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