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Innovation is key to improving childhood brain cancer survival

A new clinical trial that could transform paediatric brain cancer outcomes has been fast-tracked to commence recruitment of eligible children in Australia.

Minister for Health and Sport, the Hon Greg Hunt, announced the Access to Innovative Molecular profiling for BRAIN cancers (AIM BRAIN) trial at the Royal Children’s Hospital Melbourne today.

The international collaborative trial, which is funded jointly by the Federal Government through Cancer Australia and the Robert Connor Dawes Foundation, will be available to children in Australia from 31 October 2017.

Dr Helen Zorbas, CEO, Cancer Australia, said that establishing AIM BRAIN in Australia, under the auspices of ANZCHOG*, will build expertise and establish technology in Australia to enable diagnostic molecular profiling of children with brain cancer.

“Molecular profiling gives us a more sophisticated and accurate understanding of cancer including the characteristics of brain subtypes, mechanisms which may drive tumour growth and reasons for variations in drug responsiveness,” Dr Zorbas said.

“This will refine the diagnosis of the tumour and ensure treatment is tailored for the best possible outcomes for each child with brain cancer.”

It is estimated that 94 children will be diagnosed with brain cancer in Australia in 2017. Brain cancer is the leading cause of total cancer burden in children under 15 years in Australia.

“This ground-breaking new trial will build capacity in Australia to contribute to collaborative international efforts, accelerate Australia’s capability to undertake molecular diagnostic testing for paediatric cancers and ensure that Australia remains at the forefront of breakthrough initiatives,” Dr Zorbas said.

“This partnership between government and philanthropic funding will deliver technology to benefit children with brain cancer in Australia,” said Dr Zorbas.

Cancer Australia’s Children’s Cancer website provides information about the types of cancers affecting children, treatment, living with cancer, where to find support, and clinical trials.

* Australia New Zealand Children's Haematology and Oncology Group