The Solution

We seek to fund projects that either directly benefit rarer types of childhood cancer or projects that offer exceptionally promising potential to broadly benefit all types of cancer or medical research at large.

Sam’s Foundation funds projects that are consistent with our belief that money spent on adult cancer research seldom “trickles down” to benefit children, because their bodies and needs are so different than adults–yet money spent on childhood cancer research can and does “trickle up” to benefit society as a whole.

The projects below represent just some concrete examples of that belief in action. When we see and help support projects like these we feel genuine optimism that a cure is truly just a matter of “when” not “if”.

Project Violet

Project Violet is a collaborative effort by Dr. Jim Olson and researchers at the Fred Hutch Cancer Center, in conjunction with Seattle Children’s Hospital.  In their work devoted to rarer types of children’s brain cancers, Dr. Olson and his team pioneered something called Tumor Paint, which acts as a “molecular flashlight” by chemically adhering to cancer cells and causing them to light up. Thousands of times more sensitive than MRI imagery, Tumor Paint enables surgeons to easily distinguish between deadly cancer cells and the surrounding healthy tissue, making tumors more operable.  This amazing discovery came about because of the dedication of researchers spending their time solely devoted to vigorously searching for a cure for children’s cancers, especially rarer and deadly children’s brain tumors.  Now the entire world stands to benefit from their discovery.

The Samuel Jeffers Childhood Cancer Foundation is thrilled to support the efforts of Dr. Jim Olson and the whole team at Fred Hutch as they continue to work on their extraordinary breakthrough treatments. To learn more about their incredible efforts click the links to a moving video and some other information below.

http://www.fredhutch.org/en/labs/clinical/projects/project-violet/about-us.html
http://www.fredhutch.org/en/diseases/featured-researchers/olson-jim.html

Children’s Brain Tumor Project

Too often, scientific research is competitive instead of being collaborative – individual labs are focused on their own work, trying to make new discoveries on their own. Pediatric brain tumor research is completely different. Small, under-funded labs across the country have come together to approach this as a collaborative effort. Dr. Souweidane at the Weill-Cornell Children’s Brain Tumor Project, in conjunction with the Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center works with top pediatric brain tumor experts from coast to coast, all sharing information and discoveries, and all committed to finding answers. That’s one of the reasons why the families of the Children’s Brain Tumor Project – families who have banded together to support the research – come from all across the United States. All are pulling together on this, because we know that every success leads to the next one, and eventually they will merge into the one we all want: a cure.

Dr. Souweidane’s convection-enhanced delivery (CED) trial is one example of the amazing work being done at the Children’s Brain Tumor Project. Dr. Souweidane’s project was more than a dozen years in the making, with virtually no support. Over the past two to three years, however, more and more families and Foundations such as Sam’s have stood up and said that is simply not acceptable.

Dr. S has pioneered use of a drug delivery mechanism called Convection Enhanced Delivery (CED) whereby drugs or other therapeutic agents can be delivered directly into the tumor site, by-passing the blood brain barrier and offering a fighting chance for the medicine to have some effect on hard-to-reach tumors.  In this trial, Dr. Souweidane was able to achieve concentrations of 1,000 times or more than what can be achieved with traditional IV chemotherapy. He was also able to design and test new ways to measure those concentrations at the tumor site and monitor how long the drug stayed in the tumor. Read more here.

As wonderful as are the direct benefits to children of such a project, the translational benefits of using CED for DIPG has the potential to further evolve into a project that Dr. S expects to define many additional elements of local drug delivery to the brain.  Aspects such as device design, dosimetry measurements, drug labeling, monitoring pharmacokinetics, and many others, can be applied to not only other brain tumor strategies but any disease in which drug delivery to the brain is crucial.  What this means is that Dr. S’s work on children’s brain tumors could affect treatment for a wide host of other ailments including infections, degenerative diseases like dementia or Alzheimer’s, movement disorders, and epilepsy.  DIPG—a children’s brain tumor—has afforded us the opportunity to translate an innovative and adventurous treatment paradigm for children into an actual clinical tool with widespread potential applications—for children and adults alike—even outside the world of cancer treatment.

We believe we are nearing the “tipping point” for pediatric brain tumors. Families and smaller foundations are providing the support and momentum that researches can’t get from major funding organizations, and that is making all the difference.

The Samuel Jeffers Childhood Cancer Foundation is proud to support the efforts of the Brain Tumor Research Project. Please click the links below for more information about this exciting project.

http://weillcornellbrainandspine.org/in-the-news/milestone-clinical-trial-dipg-approved

http://weillcornellbrainandspine.org/clinical-trial/convection-enhanced-delivery-124i-8h9-patients-non-progressive-diffuse-pontine

Stanford Medicine Preclinical Thalamic Glioma Research:

The Sam Jeffers Foundation is proud to support Stanford Medicine in the amount of $25,000 which will be used to help fund important preclinical childhood cancer experiments.  This money will help fund work in Dr. Michelle Monje’s lab at Stanford Medicine in order to establish critical data needed to help justify adding a thalamic glioma arm to the ongoing panobinostat clinical trial Dr. Monje is presently running for DIPG. This means doing experiments on mice to show that thalamic glioma cells growing in the thalamus of mice are effectively treated with panobinostat.

Thalamic gliomas harbor the same mutation found in DIPG, and initial work in thalamic glioma cell cultures shows the same drug may slow tumor growth in both types of pediatric glioma. The initial $25,000 will cover mouse cage costs and supplies to do a couple of long term mouse studies of panobinostat for thalamic glioma.  The Sam Jeffers Foundation has set a goal of raising an additional $25,000 which would go a long way towards covering some of the personnel costs involved in these studies to accelerate progress the clinical trial.

These efforts underscore our longstanding belief that money spent on childhood cancer is pivotal to advancing our overall understanding of tumor progression and the ways to combat it and represents critical steps towards safer, more effective cancer treatments for our children and society as a whole.  Please join us in this effort.  Spread the word.  Contribute if you can.