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Leading Edge Clinical Trials Coming to Cook Children's

St. Baldrick's Foundation Awards Grant to Help Launch Targeted Therapeutics Program

Cook Children’s is one step closer to launching a Targeted Therapeutics Program, opening the door to the most advanced and promising clinical trials available to pediatric cancer patients. The St. Baldrick’s Foundation has awarded a $60,151 infrastructure grant to Kelly Vallance, M.D., the hematology/oncology physician leading the effort to bring more targeted therapy trials to Cook Children’s.

Targeted cancer therapies are biologic or immunologic drugs or agents that target cancer cells in the body while leaving most healthy cells alone. These drugs have become a common treatment option for adults with certain types of cancer and, in recent years, clinical trials have shown success for some childhood cancers.

“Targeted therapy is the future of pediatric cancer treatment,” said Dr. Vallance. “Being able to offer more targeted therapy through clinical trials means Cook Children’s cancer patients will have access to the newest treatments available.”

The oncology team at Cook Children’s diagnoses approximately 220 new cancer cases each year. Approximately one thousand patients undergo active treatment or follow up through Cook Children’s each year.

The grant money awarded by St. Baldrick’s will be used to fund a Targeted Therapeutics Program Coordinator. Under direction of Dr. Vallance, this person will coordinate and collaborate with consortiums and pharmaceutical partners to open new targeted therapy clinical trials at Cook Children’s.

“We’ll be able to efficiently open more trials, which will give all patients in North Texas and surrounding areas access to leading edge clinical trials closer to home,” Dr. Vallance explained.

Cook Children’s is one of five hospitals in Texas, and the only hospital in North Texas, selected to receive a portion of $2.26 million dollars in infrastructure grants awarded bySt. Baldrick’s this year. All of the grants awarded will support groundwork for childhood cancer research.

The St. Baldrick’s Foundation is the largest private funder of childhood cancer research grants worldwide. Since government funding for childhood cancer research is limited, research institutions like Cook Children’s depend on private organizations like St. Baldrick’s for support in finding new cures and treatments.

“The majority of childhood cancer patients are treated on a clinical trial,” said Kathleen Ruddy, CEO of St. Baldrick’s. “Research relies on enrolling large numbers of patients on clinical trials to ensure results are meaningful and advancements are made. Funding from St. Baldrick’s will ensure more kids have access to clinical trials, giving them a better chance at survival and a future with less long-term effects.”

The infrastructure grant awarded to Cook Children’s is the first step in the creation of a formalized Targeted Therapeutics program.

“As this research continues for all types of childhood cancer, we will see more opportunities for each child and young adult to receive personalized, targeted therapies as part of upfront standard therapy,” said Dr. Vallance. “Hopefully, this will lead to higher response rates, less toxicities and more cures.”

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