Children fighting a life-threatening form of cancer could be treated with a revolutionary anti-cancer therapy as early as next year, following the formation of a research alliance to fast-track development of a medicine pioneered by Australian researchers.
The Children’s Oncology Drug Alliance (CODA) unites the research and resources of UNSW Australia and its commercialisation office UNSW Innovations, childhood cancer research charity The Kids’ Cancer Project, ASX-listed Australian biotechnology-company Novogen, and Nationwide Children’s Hospital, Columbus, Ohio, to accelerate development of a treatment purpose-built for neuroblastoma – the most common form of solid cancer in infancy.
Many children suffering from neuroblastoma, a cancer that affects up to 100 children in Australia and around 650 in the United States each year, run out of treatment options and succumb to this disease. Childhood cancers – which claim the lives of three Australian children every week – are currently treated with chemotherapies that have been developed for adults with little consideration to the special needs of children.
“For too long, childhood cancers have been neglected despite the progress made with treatments for adult cancers. The Alliance brings together the science, expertise and funding to accelerate the development of a medicine that has the potential to change the way we treat solid cancers in children,” said Professor Peter Gunning, Head of the Oncology Research Unit at UNSW Medicine.
The Alliance will progress clinical trials of a unique form of anti-cancer therapy originally developed by Professor Gunning’s UNSW research team and funded by The Kids’ Cancer Project. Now being taken forward commercially by Novogen, the drug class known as anti-tropomyosins has been specifically tailored to selectively target the structure of the cancer cell, causing it to collapse without adversely impacting healthy cells.
Professor Peter Gunning in the Faculty of Medicine has a long standing interest in Anti-Tropomyosins for childhood oncology, and his research has been significantly funded by a local charity, The Kids Cancer Project (TKCP). UNSW Innovations proudly assists with the intellectual property matters, paving the way for the creation of the Childhood Oncology Drug Alliance (CODA).
CODA consists of UNSW and UNSW Innovations, together with TKCP, Nationwide Children’s Hospital (USA) and commercial partner Novogen Research and is progressing Anti-Tropomyosin therapeutics for childhood cancer.
Professor Gunning's research is focussed on diseases of childhood, primarily cancer and muscle damage. To find our more about his research click here