From today, newly diagnosed Australian children with DIPG (Diffuse Intrinsic Pontine Glioma) will no longer have to travel overseas to receive cutting-edge, experimental treatment for their deadly tumour, thanks to the launch of a new adaptive clinical trial called BIOMEDE.
Previously, the only DIPG treatment available in Australia was very limited, with patients surviving an average of just nine months. Consequently, many children and families travelled overseas at great cost to access treatments.
BIOMEDE is the first adaptive clinical trial in Australia to analyse a child’s tumour to identify which of the three drugs approved for the trial (erlotinib, everolimus and dasatinib) is most likely to be effective. This means the majority of trial participants will receive tailored treatment, based on the genetic profile of their tumour. The trial's flexible 'adaptive' nature also means that new drugs can be added to the trial if they show increased promise.
The trial is being run by Australian and New Zealand Children’s Haematology/Oncology Group (ANZCHOG) in Australia, and is being funded by a joint commitment of $400,000 from Cure Brain Cancer Foundation and The Isabella and Marcus Foundation.
“This is an exciting opportunity for Australian and New Zealand children to access the latest therapies for DIPG, which – without the support of Cure Brain Cancer Foundation and the Isabella and Marcus Foundation – would only be available in Europe,” said Associate Professor Geoffery McCowage, BIOMEDE’s Australasian principal investigator. “BIOMEDE represents a huge leap forward in the way we treat DIPG, with the ability to perform biopsies to analyse each child’s tumour and then treat based on the molecular target. This will enable us to test existing therapies, and also provides the framework for rapidly incorporating new agents into the trial as they become available.”
Cure Brain Cancer Foundation CEO Michelle Stewart said, “The prognosis families face when their child is diagnosed with DIPG is heartbreaking and unacceptable, and the last thing they should have to consider is travelling overseas at great expense and emotional strain. We have always sought to ensure Australian patients have access to the most promising new treatments right here at home, and thanks to the generosity of our supporters, we’ve been able to do that for children with DIPG.”
Michelle Stewart, CEO, Cure Brain Cancer Foundation
Rob De Rose, Co-founder of The Isabella and Marcus Foundation commented, “When a child is diagnosed with brain cancer the first question asked by parents is, ‘What is the chance my child can be cured?’ Currently, for DIPG the response is that it’s incurable and radiotherapy is the only proven treatment that can extend your child’s life. Parents need to have hope, something to fight for. We’re pleased to be able to offer families in Australia and New Zealand the latest experimental therapy for DIPG that tailors the treatment to each child, offering parents hope.”
Rob De Rose, Founder of Isabella and Marcus Foundation, who lost his daughter Isabella to DIPG
Carly Gray, whose eight-year-old son Tom died of a DIPG two years ago, said, "Although bittersweet, it brings great relief to know that no other parent here in Australia needs to be told to go and make memories. Instead, they now have hope."
Tom Gray (front) died of a DIPG when he was eight
Eligible patients can enrol on BIOMEDE at The Children’s Hospital at Westmead in Sydney now, with further trial sites to open in New South Wales, Queensland, Victoria, South Australia, Western Australia and New Zealand.Parents wanting to find out more about this trial and their child’s eligibility should speak to their clinician, who can then contact the Chief Investigator to discuss enrolling on the trial.
BIOMEDE in The Sydney Morning Herald