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Dr Rishi Investigates New Cancer Drug in the Fight Against Infant Leukaemia

Dr Rishi Sury Kotecha is one of the scientists conducting child cancer research at the Children’s Leukaemia & Cancer Research Foundation (Inc.) Lab at the Telethon Kids Institute. His expertise lies in preclinical and clinical leukaemia research and he is currently conducting studies into a key new drug called Blinatumomab. In the study, he will be examining whether the drug, Blinatumomab, can be safely added to the standard chemotherapy used to treat infants under 12 months of age with acute lymphoblastic leukaemia.

Blinatumomab is a form of immunotherapy and binds to both the leukaemia cells and T-cells, which are important in our body’s natural defence against infections, facilitating destruction of the leukaemia cells by the T-cells. Dr Rishi believes Blinatumomab is going to be a crucial drug in the treatment of acute lymphoblastic leukaemia in infants.

Until now, studies have shown that Blinatumomab is safe to use in older children and adults. Dr Rishi’s research is an early phase trial, which aims to see whether using Blinatumomab is safe and feasible for treating infants under 12 months of age.

Most babies with pre-B acute lymphoblastic leukaemia have a very poor survival rate due to a genetic abnormality, which is called a MLL rearrangement. Only 40 percent of babies with this abnormality survive beyond five years. For those under three months of age, there is only 16 percent survival. This highlights the desperate need for better therapies to improve their outcome. It is hoped that Blinatumomab will not only improve the outcome of these infants, but also enable reduction of conventional chemotherapy which is highly toxic to their fragile bodies.

When asked why Dr Rishi chose to specialise in paediatric haematology/oncology, he is very positive “I chose this specialty for the successes that have come from such research. When I receive emails and photos from a child I’ve treated telling me about their lives, such as starting university and having families of their own, I see the impact that research has made on their outcome and it makes it all worthwhile.”

The CLCRF is proud to fund cutting-edge research such as Dr Rishi’s that leads to better outcomes for children with leukaemia.

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$45,000 Hole-in-One!

On 12 December 2017, Andrea and Wendy of Children’s Leukaemia & Cancer Research Foundation (Inc.) (CLCRF) attended a lunch at the Royal Perth Golf Club and the CLCRF were presented with a generous cheque of $45,000 from the Royal Perth Ladies Charity Committee. The donation came from fundraising efforts of the Royal Perth Ladies Charity Committee through proceeds from their Golf Day, Bridge Club and other activities.

In Committee Chairperson, Vicki Prastidis’ own words:

“The Royal Perth Ladies Charity Committee run a large golf day in October every year. The event is for the R.O. Law cup which has been played for 82 years. We have a field of close to 200 ladies playing golf (from clubs all over W.A.), we also have over 50 bridge players. Each player pays a fee for the day.

“The ladies set up stalls selling flowers, plants, cakes and produce, books, craft, bags, raffles and wine. The day is lots of fun and the members and community generously provide so much for us.

“As well as the golf day, we are given money each week by our Bridge club who charge a gold coin to each player. These ladies are a huge support to us.

“Throughout the year, we hold a fashion parade, sell fresh produce and have several raffles. The members at Royal Perth are so proud to be part of helping children live fuller happier lives and work hard to do that.”

The CLCRF thanks Vicki and the members of the Royal Perth Ladies Charity Committee for their generous donation and is very appreciative of their wonderful contribution to child cancer research.

If you would like to fundraise for the Foundation just head over to https://cyo-event.everydayhero.com/au/sign-up!

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Stunning Sunflowers Rise for Awareness

Last September, Children’s Leukaemia & Cancer Research Foundation (Inc.) (CLCRF) ‘sowed the seeds for childhood cancer awareness’ by selling sunflower seeds for Childhood Cancer Awareness Month. The sunflower seeds were a hit with supporters and many packets were sold raising over $1,800.

Linda Kelly and her grandson, Riley Kelly-Cook, sent the Foundation some photos of sunflowers that grew from the seeds they purchased from CLCRF last September.

“Best sunflowers ever. I have never grown any this large before, the neighbours were in awe.  Fantastic way to support a great cause.“

The sunflower seed packets might make a comeback this year for September Childhood Cancer Awareness Month so stay tuned!

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Georgia Lowry has a Dream!

Our young ambassador, Georgia Lowry, came up with an exciting new idea to raise funds for child cancer research. As part of the ‘Million Dollar Project’, Georgia has a dream to travel all around Australia in a small van to speak and raise $1 million to fund a Young Scientist Fellowship Program with the Children’s Leukaemia & Cancer Research Foundation (Inc.) (CLCRF).

The Young Scientist Fellowship Program aims to seek out young scientific fellows on an international level, who would be interested in working in the CLCRF Lab in the Telethon Kids Institute.  They will be mentored in their research career into child cancer. This fellowship will advance the legacy of research that Professor Ursula Kees and Dr Michael Willoughby set into place, moving the team closer to finding a cure and better treatment protocols for children.

To ‘fuel’ her dream, she needs the following things in place:

  • Firstly, she needs a small kombi van. So, if you or you know someone who is willing to donate a van in safe working condition, get in touch with the Foundation.
  • She will require a mechanic to help her fix the fan so it will travel around the country safely.
  • It needs to be fitted out with comfortable facilities and a bed so that she can live in it. So, let us know if you can help with this.
  • Someone who is willing to spray paint or graphic wrap the van with the Children’s Leukaemia & Cancer Research Foundation Inc. logo.
  • Donations to help pay for her fuel and food.

With all these things in place, Georgia will then be able to travel around Australia and raise a million dollars for the project! Will you help her?

If you can help Georgia in any way, please give CLCRF a call on (08) 9363 7400 or email admin@childcancerresearch.com.au.

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Geoff Cattach — Lifetime Achievement Award

On 18 January 2018, AMP honoured several financial advisers for a lifetime of achievement. CLCRF chairman, Geoff Cattach, was amongst those who were honoured.

For over 50 years, Geoff has represented AMP and served in and around the Harvey community as head of Harvey Financial Services. Geoff takes pride in the fact that his first client from 1965 is still with him.

This is not the first time that Geoff has been honoured for his dedication and service to the community. In 2009, Geoff was made a member of the General Division for the Order of Australia for service to the community, particularly through the Children’s Leukaemia & Cancer Research Foundation. In 2014, Geoff was a finalist for the WA Senior Australian of the Year.

Geoff holds to core beliefs that have served him well for over 50 years. “I have always treated people with integrity. My attitude has always been: if you never tell a lie then you don’t need a good memory; treat everyone with morality and you will never be far wrong; empathy is most important as it is about your client’s life and their dependents.”

Children’s Leukaemia & Cancer Research Foundation’s (Inc.) Board and members congratulate Geoff Cattach for his outstanding achievement and thank him for the incredible contribution that he has made to the Foundation, the community and Financial Planning.