When 3 like-minded childhood cancer charities partner together, anything is possible! In the most recent collaboration, three New York based pediatric cancer charities, A Kids’ Brain Tumor Cure, The Ty Louis Campbell Foundation and Solving Kids’ Cancer, have partnered to fund a phase 1 immunotherapy study for pediatric patients with relapsed or refractory CNS tumors. Under the direction of Dr. Ira Dunkel, Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center (MSKCC) and in collaboration with the Dana Farber Cancer Institute (DFCI), Johns Hopkins/Sidney Kimmell Comprehensive Cancer Center and Children’s Hospital Colorado, the trial will enroll 36 children beginning late in 2016, with the goal of expanding the trial to other centers as well.

This trial is ground-breaking as it focuses on checkpoint inhibitors which are humanized antibodies that take the ‘brakes’ off immune cancer cells to effectively and efficiently kill cancer cells. This combination treatment targets the immune system rather than the cancer itself. According to Dr. Ira Dunkel, “Checkpoint inhibitors are not showing the same kind of side-effect profiles or toxicities seen in the standard treatments kids with brain tumors currently receive like high-dose chemotherapy and radiation, which can be critical for increasing quality long-term survival.” In this study, children will be treated with a combination approach leveraging two agents, an anti-PD1 antibody (nivolumab) and another antibody targeting CTLA-4 (ipilimumab), a combination that has been highly effective in several high-risk adult cancer trials already. The hope is that children with malignant brain tumors will have similar results while reducing the toxicities that these kids usually receive with current ‘gold standard’ treatments.

This innovative trial marks the first time this encouraging immunotherapy combination of agents is being used in children with brain tumors. All three collaborating partners expect that this study may provide a completely new avenue for treating deadly brain tumors in kids. More to come as the trial opens for enrollment.

Read the full Press Release here.