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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.

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Local Matters: Burgers that count!

Thanks to ‘Local Matters’ through burger restaurant, Grill’d at Brookfield Place, Children’s Leukaemia & Cancer Research Foundation (Inc.) received $600, made up of $300 each from two stores, in December.

Local Matters is a community donation program started by Grill’d. Each month, each of their restaurants supports three local community groups and donates $500 back into their local community. Each local community group receives a jar at the store. Customers are given a token that they can put into one out of three jars of their choice.

At the end of each month, the community groups receive $500 which is split between the three. The group with the highest number of tokens receives $300, and the other two groups receive $100 each.

A big thank you to Grill’d, Brookfield Place, for your delicious burgers and for helping to give towards child cancer research. Every dollar counts and we are very grateful for the support!

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$3,000 for NUT Carcinoma Research Manuscript

$3,000 in additional funding from the Children’s Leukaemia & Cancer Research Foundation (Inc.) (CLCRF) was provided for publication of Dr Alex Beesley’s research manuscript into NUT Carcinoma. Originally, CLCRF provided $12,000 in funding for manuscript costs. Now a further $3,000 has been granted to Dr Beesley to enable the completion of his manuscript for publication.

Dr Alex Beesley, Honorary Research Fellow at the Telethon Kids Institute, together with Dr Anja Stirnweiss conducted a landmark study to study key features of one of the most hostile cancers, NUT Carcinoma. The study looked into the genetics behind NUT Carcinoma. NUT Carcinoma is a highly aggressive cancer and research into better therapies for patients of the cancer is desperately needed.

In the study, researchers have used a unique panel of NUT carcinoma samples to look for drugs that are more effective at fighting these tumours. In addition, they have analysed the genetic code of these samples, the first time that this has been done comprehensively for this disease.

The findings, recently published in the prestigious journal Oncotarget, provide a blueprint of what goes wrong in these cancer cells and the types of drugs that might be best for treatment in the future. Dr Beesley’s research provides hope for finding better therapies for children who suffer from NUT Carcinoma.

The CLCRF is dedicated to funding research that will better the lives of children who suffer from this terrible disease and is glad to help Dr Alex Beesley in his key research.

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Book Sale for Child Cancer Research

Alison was inspired by the story of Finlay Higgs and his family. Four-year-old Finlay has been battling Hepatoblastoma, a rare form of liver cancer, since the age of two. When she heard about Finlay and his story, she was filled with compassion for the Higgs family as her own mother had come through a fight with cancer.

Inspired with her mother’s journey, Alison has been hosting a private afternoon tea and book sale at her home for family and friends aimed at raising money for cancer research for the previous three years. For 2017, she decided to raise funds through the book sale to go towards the Children’s Leukaemia & Cancer Research Foundation (Inc.) (CLCRF).

“I was inspired by the Higgs family, who drew my awareness to the lack of funding for paediatric cancer research,” explained Alison.

Alison’s generous family and friends donated books and made food for the event on 4 November.

“Every year I have met new people, who have shared their own stories of how cancer has touched their life, and that has been the driving force to continue – the hope that every dollar will make a difference and to acknowledge and support people affected by cancer,” she said.

The book sale was very successful and nearly $900 was raised for the CLCRF!

Thank you Alison, your friends and family for your generous effort and donation to the CLCRF! We are very touched by your love and compassion for children and families bravely fighting cancer. The money raised will go towards much-needed child cancer research.

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Wellard Campdraft 2017

The 10th annual Wellard Campdraft held over three days starting on 24 November in Pinjarra, featured highly bred and trained horses and their skilled riders running at their best in manoeuvring cattle around the course. The event was held at the McLarty family’s Blythewood farming property in Pinjarra with funds raised going to the Children’s Leukaemia & Cancer Research Foundation (Inc.) (CLCRF).

The unique sport of campdrafting is a family affair, and most competitors take time out of their busy lives to have fun and participate in the three-day festival of events. This year’s Campdraft had two prestigious Open events producing outstanding winners. An evening barbeque on Saturday night gave those involved an opportunity to let their hair down and socialise.

Wellard Limited Executive Director of Operations, Fred Troncone, said the livestock exporter was proud of its commitment to such a successful event.

“Being involved with the Wellard Star of the West Camp Draft over the years is a fantastic experience. To see the dedication of the riders and their horses and also the local community to come together to put the event on is amazing – thanks to everyone involved, particularly the McLarty Family, Boar Swamp Committee and Wellard,” said Andrea Alexander, Executive Officer of CLCRF.

Congratulations to the event organisers, winners and competitors of the Wellard Campdraft. We value your contribution to child cancer research through this outstanding annual event.

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Icky Sticky Bears

Children’s Leukaemia & Cancer Research Foundation (Inc.) (CLCRF) helped Icky Sticky Bears look for new homes in 1997.

Icky Sticky Bears were adorable teddy bears caught indulging in a pot of honey. Honey covered their faces and bodies as they were caught red-handed with their paws in the honey pot! The CLCRF were urging supporters to adopt these lovable teddy bears at the cost of $10 each, while also raising funds for the Foundation.

The bears were hugely popular and are a reminder of the fun and unique ways that the CLCRF have raised money for child cancer research. The Foundation is always coming up with exciting new ways of raising money for research into cancer. If you have a great new idea for raising money, please let us know!