St. Baldrick's donates $734k to Cincinnati Children's

CINCINNATI, OH (FOX19) - The St. Baldrick's Foundation, a charity dedicated to raising money for childhood cancer research, is proud to award a total of $734,917 in pediatric cancer research grants to support the work of a physician-researcher and one consortium at Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center.

Benjamin Mizukawa, M.D., received a $330,000 St. Baldrick's Scholar award, for a period of three years, to support his work focused on acute myeloid leukemia (AML). Although most leukemia cells are readily killed by chemotherapy, if the leukemia stem cell escapes therapy, the child will eventually succumb to the disease.

"We are studying how leukemia stem cells maintain self-renewal, or the ability to give rise to new leukemia cells," explains Dr. Mizukawa. "By understanding the signals needed for self-renewal, we hope to identify new drugs to eliminate the leukemia stem cell and prevent relapsed disease."

St. Baldrick's also awarded an extended consortium grant, for a total of $404,917, to support the ongoing work of the Mechanisms Underlying DICER1 Suppression of Pleuropulmonary Blastoma Consortium, conducted by a group of five institutions across the country. Funds will be administered by Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center.

Pleuropulmonary blastoma (PPB) is a rare lung cancer of young children. Inherited genetic mutations have been recently identified in a gene known as DICER1 that predisposes children to developing PPB as well as other childhood tumors arising in the muscle, brain, ovary and kidneys.

This laboratory research is complimented by the first-ever prospective clinical study of PPB therapy.

The goal of these collaborative studies is to identify key signals responsible for PPB tumor development and growth, and also define optimal treatment for children with all stages of PPB.

"We aim to understand why and how some kids develop tumors and others do not.  We also are focused on determining why kids with the same tumor respond differently to treatment," said Kathryn Wikenheiser-Brokamp, M.D., Ph.D., lead physician-scientist at Cincinnati Children's. "Our goal is to then use what we learn to improve the lives of each child with cancer by giving them the best treatment possible."

Through the vigorous efforts of volunteers and supporters in the U.S. and around the world, the Foundation is not only honored to award this local grant, but will fund a total of more than $22 million in its 2013 summer grant cycle.

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