What is the Zero Childhood Cancer program?
Zero Childhood Cancer is the largest single initiative ever undertaken for children with cancer in Australia. A truly ground-breaking program led by Children’s Cancer Institute and the Sydney Children’s Hospitals Network that brings together all major Australian clinical and research groups working in childhood cancer to offer Australia’s first ever personalised medicine program for children with high-risk or relapsed cancer.
What is personalised medicine?
Personalised medicine is tailor-made treatment, customised to each individual patient. For example two children who have the ‘same’ kind of cancer and who show the same symptoms, may respond very differently to the same anti-cancer drugs.
One size doesn’t fit all. By using personalised medicine, the goal of Zero Childhood Cancer is to treat each child’s cancer in the most targeted way possible, to improve survival, reduce side effects, and aim for a cure for every child.
What is involved and how does it work?
For Zero Childhood Cancer, scientists at Children’s Cancer Institute and other specialised laboratories around the country will analyse cancer cells taken from each high-risk or relapsed child on the national clinical trial to precisely identify their cancer’s molecular and genetic features. We will screen the cells against hundreds of drugs to find which ones, alone or in combination, are most likely to kill the cancer. We will grow the cells in our laboratory models of disease to provide further evidence that these drugs are really likely to be effective at treating the child’s cancer. All this information will be used by the program’s Multidisciplinary Tumour Board to make decisions about the best treatment for each child.
The program’s ultimate goal is to help all children with cancer to survive and lead better quality lives by developing ways to tailor treatment for each child. We aim to be able to offer personalised treatment under this program to all children with high-risk cancer across Australia by 2020.
Which children will be able to participate in the Zero Childhood Cancer program?
Zero Childhood Cancer will be available to infants, children and adolescents with the highest-risk cancers, those with a less than 30% chance of survival. These children include those suffering from high-risk or relapsed cancer, childhood brain tumours, sarcomas, infant leukaemias and neuroblastomas. Participation in the trial will only be possible through the child’s paediatric oncologist.
What is translational research and why is this important?
‘Bench to bedside’ research translates findings from fundamental scientific research into everyday clinical practice to improve human health and well-being. This approach gives children with cancer the highest possible chance of survival and quality of life. Zero Childhood Cancer brings together all major Australian clinical and research groups working in childhood cancer to form a translational research partnership that brings research closer to patients than ever before.
What has happened so far with Zero Childhood Cancer?
The first stage of the Zero Childhood Cancer program commenced in late 2015, with a pilot study for high-risk young cancer patients in New South Wales. Originally this pilot study was planned for 12 young patients, nearly 60 have been enrolled in the program due to the high demand by clinicians and parents. The pilot study enabled development and testing of the platform required to establish the personalised medicine pipeline including molecular profiling and drug screening.
What is happening next?
Following successful completion of the pilot study, a national clinical trial will open in September 2017. We are aiming to enrol at least 400 children by the completion of the trial to benefit from the personalised research and clinical program.
What is the aim of the study?
Zero Childhood Cancer is a research study investigating whether a child's individual tumour genetics or biology can be used to better predict responsiveness to a particular drug. This is an example of personalised medicine.
Will my child be eligible for the Zero Childhood Cancer program?
The participants to be enrolled on this study will be determined using strict eligibility criteria in consultation with their treating oncologist and the Zero Childhood Cancer team. The focus of the Zero Childhood Cancer program is children with the most aggressive cancers. In all cases, please speak to your treating oncologist first and they will be able to access additional information specific to your child’s eligibility.
Will my child get access to experimental drugs if enrolled on this study?
Zero Childhood Cancer is not a drug trial. The aim of the program is to test scientific methods to better match a drug to a child's unique tumour based on the biology and genetic footprint of the tumour. If useful information can be gained through this experimental scientific analysis, a panel of expert oncologists and scientists will issue a report back detailing this information and relevant potential treatment options to your child's treating oncologist.
How can I enrol my child in the Zero Childhood Cancer clinical trial?
Please speak to your treating oncologist and they will be able to access additional information specific to your child’s eligibility. If your child meets the eligibility requirements, they may be enrolled on the trial.
What is the risk of enrolling in the Zero Childhood Cancer clinical trial? Could my child be worse off by taking part in an experimental study?
There are risks in any clinical trial, which are explained prior to enrolment. In paediatric oncology, many children participate in clinical trials to access experimental therapies. Research shows children on clinical trials generally have better outcomes than those who aren’t. While we cannot guarantee a better outcome for any individual child on the Zero Childhood Cancer clinical trial, participating children will receive standard of care, the current best known treatment, as a minimum.
My child does not fit the inclusion criteria. Can I pay for the service outside the trial?
No. Children are enrolled in the Zero Childhood Cancer clinical trial only if they meet strict eligibility criteria.
Does my child need to have extra tests or procedures to be enrolled on the study?
Yes - the study will require a biopsy with a sample of fresh tumour in order to do the required laboratory testing. Gaining sufficient tissue is critical in order to maximise the chances of being able to do all necessary scientific analysis. The importance of this will be discussed with your treating oncologist and/or surgeon.
What are the timings of the Zero Childhood Cancer program?
The first stage of the Zero Childhood Cancer program commenced in late 2015 with a pilot study for high-risk young cancer patients in New South Wales. Following successful completion of the pilot study, a national multicentre prospective study will open in late 2017 including all major paediatric oncology treatment centres around Australia.
Will my child be able to be treated by my local oncology centre?
Yes, all Australian paediatric cancer centres will be able to open the clinical trial, meaning, if eligible for the trial, your child can remain at your current treatment centre and will not need to travel. Participating hospitals include: Sydney Children's Hospital, Randwick John Hunter Children's Hospital The Children's Hospital, Westmead Monash Children's Hospital, Clayton Royal Children's Hospital, Melbourne Women and Children's Hospital, Adelaide Lady Cilento Children's Hospital, Brisbane Royal Children's Hospital, Perth
Is the Zero Childhood Cancer program for children in Australia only?
The Zero Childhood Cancer program will involve all paediatric oncology units across Australia. There are 950 children and adolescents who are diagnosed with cancer every year in Australia, and approximately 210 of these patients have high-risk cancers on diagnosis or after relapse, and would be eligible for this study. The Zero Childhood Cancer program will recruit patients from all paediatric oncology units across Australia. The program has formed a collaborative network of multidisciplinary experts from national and international medical research institutions and hospitals to deliver high quality results in a clinically-relevant timeframe.
For more details, please refer to the Collaboration Map. Regardless of whether your enquiry is domestic or international, please speak to your treating oncologist as your first point of contact.
How much does the Zero Childhood Cancer program cost parents?
There will be no charge for Australian children to be part of the study. Children’s Cancer Institute and Sydney Children’s Hospitals Network will be raising the necessary funds for the full roll out of the program and the tests required for each child. International enquiries will be subject to different criteria which you will need to discuss with your treating clinician.
How do I find out more?
Please contact your treating oncologist who will be able to make contact with us via email.
What is the Zero Childhood Cancer Capacity Campaign?
The Zero Childhood Cancer program is an innovative and translational personalised medicine program that offers the very real opportunity to research a revolutionary new approach for childhood cancer. But it is complex and expensive. The Zero Childhood Cancer capacity campaign to support this transformational program aims to raise $12 million, by engaging the generosity of community-spirited corporates, and compassionate philanthropists Australia-wide to help us get closer to one day curing every child.
What makes the Zero Childhood Cancer Capacity Campaign so unique?
The Zero Childhood Cancer capacity campaign is a joint initiative of Children’s Cancer Institute, Sydney Children’s Hospital Foundation. It is a national, landmark campaign that has harnessed unprecedented collaborative fundraising energy.
Why should I invest (financials)?
To enable the national roll out of the Zero Childhood Cancer program, we need at least $58 million of funding to ensure the required equipment, facilities and people are in place. These funds must be raised on top of current research requirements. To date, Children’s Cancer Institute has successfully secured commitments of $42 million from government bodies and funding partners. The scientists and researchers embarking on this visionary program are now turning to the community for support. For more details, please refer to the Financial Table.
Who do I contact?
If you would like further information about joining us a financial supporter for the landmark Zero Childhood Cancer capacity campaign, please contact us via +61 1300 656 931 or email