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Dr Stirnweiss Makes Inroads into Fighting Resistant Cancer

Last year Dr Anja Stirnweiss, Senior Researcher at the Telethon Kids Institute, received a Children’s Leukaemia & Cancer Research Foundation (Inc.) (CLCRF) Project Grant that enabled her to evaluate pathways associated with drug resistance in NUT midline carcinoma, a type of aggressive cancer.

Further to this experimental work being conducted and analysed, Dr Stirnweiss submitted a Small Grant Application to CLCRF for support with the costs to finalise and publish the findings of this project.

In NUT midline carcinoma, the patient’s genetic material is incorrectly repaired, which leads to the joining of two genes (called BRD4 and NUT) and creates a new hybrid gene that causes the cancer. A new class of cancer drugs called iBETs, designed to block the function of BRD4, are currently assessed worldwide in 21 clinical trials for patients with leukaemia, brain tumours, aggressive breast cancers and NUT midline carcinoma.

Dr Stirnweiss’ findings indicate that the therapeutic benefits of these drugs are limited through the acquisition of resistance. This has important clinical ramifications.

For the study, she and her team used a unique collection of cell lines, obtained from NUT midline carcinoma patients, to identify drug-induced changes in gene expression. Dr Stirnweiss then performed a correlation analysis to identify changes that are unique to iBET-resistant cells.

Network analysis, which assesses how those genes are functionally connected to each other, highlighted the oncogene FOS to be a central player of the gene network that is associated with drug resistance. Removal of this gene from the resistant cells showed that FOS is not a driver of resistance, but an ideal marker to predict whether the cancer cells will respond to iBET drug treatment. Ultimately, assessment of FOS could be used in the clinic to predict whether patients will benefit from iBET treatment.

It was agreed that the findings from this substantial body of work is highly relevant to patients with NUT midline carcinoma and other cancers with BRD4 involvement. Therefore, the findings should be made available to other researchers and clinicians. To publish these findings in the highly prestigious journal, Molecular Cancer Research, minor work needs to be done. When completed, Ms Mahalia McEvoy, an outstanding young researcher who conducted experiments essential to the proposed manuscript as part of her Honours studies, will assist Dr Stirnweiss with writing the manuscript.

The Foundation approved a budget of $14,276 to cover these publication costs. Dr Stirnweiss passionately believes that this research presents a unique opportunity to make a difference for patients suffering from NUT midline carcinoma.

Congratulations and thank you to Dr Stirnweiss for her outstanding scientific contribution to cancer research.

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Cancer group’s $1m a year offer

westaust-21oct2017The West Australian
Cathy O’Leary Medical Editor

A WA children’s cancer research group will direct $1 million a year to the Telethon Kids Institute, in a new funding agreement to ramp up groundbreaking research.

For more than 30 years the Perth-based Children’s Leukaemia and Cancer Research Foundation has been raising money for research into childhood cancers.

Board chairman Geoff Cattach said the three year agreement with Telethon made sense and would help raise the profile of all the research.

The foundation was founded by Peter Harper, whose daughter Jennifer was diagnosed with leukaemia in 1977. When he discovered there was no research into children’s leukaemia being conducted in WA, he set out to raise money. Sadly, Jennifer died in 1978.

The foundation was established at Princess Margaret Hospital, and in 1984 Swiss-born scientist Dr Ursula Kees was recruited from the German Cancer Institute to head up its research laboratory.

Mr Cattach said the new collaboration was designed to get maximum benefit from donations from the community to help sick children.

“I think it will be good for the foundation’s profile but we’ve also got a pretty solid base in terms of the people who contribute to us,” he said.

“I often refer to them as ordinary Australians, but of course they’re not ordinary at all.”

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Raffle Winner Announced

Our ‘Lucky Numbers’ Raffle #43 (Permit No LS210135917) was drawn on Thursday 19 October. Winning ticket No 4823.

The Winner of the $15,000 CASH has now been contacted and is very HAPPY !!

Our next raffle commences on the 23/10/17 – if you would like to purchase tickets – please ring our Raffle Hotline 1300 139 651 OR head to our raffle website: https://clcrf.auraffles.com.au/purchase-tickets.

Thanks to all who supported this raffle and helped raise money for vital research into childhood cancers

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2017 Southwest Bike Trek

Written by Eric Maddock – Trek Organiser

The Children’s Leukaemia & Cancer Research Foundation’s 2017 Southwest Bike Trek started off in Mandurah on Monday 9 October and finished in Augusta on Saturday 16 October. Even with reduced numbers of riders taking part we still raised in excess of $23,400.

Our small number of riders had our ranks increased for a couple of days between Harvey and Busselton with a large group of riders from the Bunbury Over 40s Cycle Club, whom I would like to thank for their participation. I must also say a huge thanks to all the Lions and Rotary Clubs along the way who provided the much appreciated support for our riders of food and accommodation, as well as various monetary donations.

Others who assisted along the way were the ladies from the Binningup Seniors Club who provided not only a beautiful lunch but a monetary donation as well. The ladies from the Harvey Professional & Business Women’s Association also assisted with homemade biscuits for various tea breaks along the way and with providing our afternoon tea at the Harvey Shire offices in Harvey.

Further acknowledgements that need to be made are to our various support crew; Norma Cox, Wendy Sims and Ed Pereira for driving the lead and following vehicles and Kay Tonzig for acting as our first aid person. Without their support this ride would not have been possible. We were also assisted along the way by Jarrah Infusion at Pinjarra, Equinox Cafe at Busselton, and the Deck Chair Cafe in Augusta who provided the riders and support crew with the necessary cuppa and cake. And, of course, it would be remiss of me not to acknowledge, Annette, my wife for all the work she did assisting me with putting the whole thing together.

The ride was a great social event as well as fundraiser and we enjoyed lovely weather for the majority of the time. We only had about three hours of rain on the Tuesday but that’s life and no one was complaining anyway. So overall a good time was had by all.

Looking forward to next year when I hope we will have a full contingent of riders (25 to 30). Hopefully the riders from this year will spread the word so that we can do something amazing to raise further money for research to help kids fight leukaemia and cancer and have fun doing it.

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Shake a tin for Child Cancer Research!

Justin Bruce has a Children’s Leukaemia & Cancer Research Foundation Inc. (CLCRF) tin at his workplace, Statewide Bearings in Kewdale. Statewide Bearings specialises in the procurement, supply and support of bearing and power transmission products. Justin is the Financial Officer at the organisation.

When Justin, age four, was diagnosed with leukaemia, his family became involved with the CLCRF. Justin wanted to help those kids fight this disease, just as he had, and today he is one of our most dedicated volunteers and a board member for the CLCRF.

Want a simple and easy way to make a difference in the lives of children with cancer? Ask for a Children’s Leukaemia & Cancer Research Foundation Inc. tin that can be placed in your school, workplace or club. Do you know that a tin can collect up to $300 to help better a child’s life?

Just like Justin, if you would like to place a CLCRF tin at your workplace or organisation, please contact the office on (08) 9363 7400 or email admin@childcancerresearch.com.au!

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Above and Beyond $10,000!

For the month of August 2017, Children’s Leukaemia & Cancer Research Foundation Inc. (CLCRF) was one of three charity organisations competing in the ‘Vote for Good’ Community Reward Grant Program held by Beyond Bank.

The organisation that had the greatest number of online votes on the Beyond Bank website by the end of August would be awarded a $10,000 grant from the bank. While CLCRF were mostly in the lead, the race to gather votes from the community was tense as the other charities were not lagging far behind with their votes.

At the end of the month, we waited with anticipation to find out which organisation had the $10,000 grant. We were not told who the winner was in September, however Andrea Alexander, CLCRF’s Executive Officer, was advised to ‘prepare a speech – just in case’ for the Community Reward Grant Awards Night in October.

Beyond Bank held the award night on Tuesday 3 October, and revealed the winner of the $10,000 grant. We were thrilled to learn that CLCRF had gathered the greatest number of votes from the community and won the $10,000 grant!

“Firstly, thanks to the Beyond Bank staff – they were the ones that chose the charities to support in WA, secondly to our wonderful supporters for voting for us and lastly but not less – to Beyond Bank for this amazing grant,” Andrea stated.

CLCRF wants to thank Beyond Bank as well as each and every single person who voted for us in the program. We could not have won without your wonderful support! It is because of Beyond Bank and your vote that we now have $10,000 to add to child cancer research funds! Rest assured that CLCRF will spend the $10,000 wisely.

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Spoilt to Raise Money for Child Cancer Research

The Spoilt Hair Retreat in Wembley raised money for Children’s Leukaemia & Cancer Research Inc. (CLCRF) by holding a ‘Kids Cuts for Cancer’ event on Sunday 17 September. The event was held in honour of Spoilt Hair Retreat’s owner, Elsa-Rene Mitchell’s 5-year-old cousin, Grace, who is battling leukaemia.

“She has endured the harsh treatments that come with battling her disease and the ongoing effects these treatments have on her body,” said Elsa-Rene.

There was a fantastic turnout of children and their parents on the day. The Spoilt hair team dressed in fancy dress (fairies, Princess Elsa, Batman, Star Wars characters and Dr Seuss) while they styled crazy haircuts for children and coloured their hair in bright colours like pink and blue. There was also a cake stall, balloons, laughter and lots of glitter!

By the end of the day, $2,250 was raised for the CLCRF to support child cancer research! What a fantastic result and the CLCRF want to thank Spoilt Hair Retreat for their passionate dedication in raising awareness and funds to help children with cancer.

If you would like to hold an event to give to children with cancer, just start a fundraising page and share it with friends and family!

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A Symphony of Love

Here’s a flashback to the past: this article was published on Monday 24 May 1999 in The West Australian when Georgia Lowry, was only 5 years of age!

Georgia was diagnosed with a rare and very aggressive form of leukaemia at just eight weeks old. Miraculously, Georgia is still with us at 22 years of age today and is a wonderful ambassador for CLCRF.

She’s photographed here laughing on top of a double bass with the German 66-piece Bosch Orchestra’s conductor, Ulrich Walddorfer. The concert was held on 24 May 1999 at the Perth Concert Hall to raise funds for Children’s Leukaemia & Cancer Research Foundation Inc. (CLCRF) and tickets went for a reasonable $15.

“I loved this photo shoot – I remember Georgia had everyone laughing,” said Andrea Alexander, Executive Officer of CLCRF, who was present at the photoshoot in 1999.

Since that time, Georgia Lowry, who is now 22, has gone from strength to strength as a CLCRF ambassador. She continues to passionately raise awareness of the need for greater funding for child cancer research.

It’s inspiring to remember the wonderful efforts of organisations like Bosch Orchestra to raise awareness and money for child cancer research!

If you’re inspired to hold an event to give to children with cancer, just start a fundraising page and share it with friends and family to raise money for CLCRF!