Brain tumours are the second most common type of cancer that occurs in children. There are many different types of brain tumours, which require different types of treatment. In general, improvements in treatment for brain tumours has lagged behind the advances made in other childhood cancers, such as leukaemia.
There are many types of tumours that remain difficult to treat, and current treatments used often result in a lot of side effects. The doctors at Sydney Children’s Hospital, Randwick (SCH) therefore have developed an active research program to improve the outcomes for children with brain tumours.
Some of the research projects include:
Clinical research and clinical trials – We have an active clinical research program investigating new treatment options for childhood brain tumours. We participate in local, national and international trials testing and investigating new treatments, with the ultimate aim of improving cure rates and reducing treatment side effects. Our clinical trials cover a range of brain tumours including medulloblastoma, high grade gliomas, diffuse pontine glioma, low grade glioma, ependymoma and relapsed brain tumours.
Laboratory research – A/Prof David Ziegler heads a laboratory research program into some of the common childhood cancers with a particular focus on malignant brain tumours. The group has focused on developing targeted therapies that specifically attack brain tumour cells but spare normal healthy tissues. The aim is to find new treatment strategies that improve the cure rates for childhood brain tumours and simultaneously decrease treatment side effects. Exciting progress has been made in identifying agents that induce apoptosis (programmed cell death) in malignant gliomas and medulloblastoma. The team is also focused on discovering new treatments for Diffuse Intrinsic Pontine Gliomas – the most devastating brain tumour.
Support for the brain tumour research program has been generously provided by the Sydney Children’s Hospital Foundation, The Cure Starts Now, The Benny Wills Foundation, The Balnaves Foundation, Cure Cancer Australia, Cancer Australia, Pfizer Cancer Research Grants and the Royal Australasian College of Physicians.