Pediatric Oncology Partnerships Are Models for Success
In this special issue of the Bulletin, we pay tribute to pediatric oncology, focusing on the wide-reaching partnerships that have led to exemplary progress in treating children with cancer. As you will see, these partnerships have markedly reduced pediatric cancer mortality and will most certainly hasten our progress against other cancers, such as osteosarcoma and brain tumors, for which prognosis remains poor.
NCI sponsors several cooperative clinical trials groups to study pediatric cancers, the largest of which is the Children's Oncology Group (COG). In 2000, NCI facilitated the formation of COG through a merger of the Children's Cancer Group, the Pediatric Oncology Group, the Intergroup Rhabdomyosarcoma Study Group, and the National Wilms Tumor Study Group. Because of this network, accrual to pediatric clinical trials is remarkably high: Among eligible children younger than 5, 90 percent or more are currently treated as part of a clinical trial, compared with less than 5 percent participation in trials by the adult population.
NCI's Pediatric Oncology Branch is a member of COG. Through the Advanced Technology Program at NCI-Frederick and the Office of Science and Technology Partnerships, the Pediatric Oncology Branch has unique access to technology and procedures for genetic analysis, biomarker studies, and targeted therapy development - advances that can be tested in pre-clinical and early-phase clinical trials before moving to the larger extramural community. Read more
International Ewing Sarcoma Study Under Way
Researchers at NCI have joined forces with investigators across the U.S. and Europe to launch an international clinical trial of a promising new agent against Ewing sarcoma, a rare cancer that affects mostly children, adolescents, and young adults.
The agent, called R1507, is an investigational monoclonal antibody produced by Hoffmann-La Roche that inhibits insulin-like growth factor 1 receptor (IGF-1R). Ewing sarcoma has been linked with mutated genes that promote the production of IGF-1R. Previous phase I studies that included adolescents and young adults demonstrated promising results in Ewing sarcoma patients with treatment-resistant (refractory), progressive disease who had failed multiple standard and "salvage" therapies. In some cases, there have been complete responses to IGF-1R blockers in such high-risk patients.
Dr. Lee Helman, NCI's scientific director for clinical science and a noted expert in pediatric sarcomas, received numerous calls about these early results and met with his colleagues as part of the Sarcoma Alliance for Research through Collaboration several times to hear presentations from companies, including Roche, about their IGF-1R blocker compounds for use in a planned phase II study in children and adults aged 12 years and older with relapsed or refractory Ewing sarcoma. They selected R1507 for the current study and will expand this treatment to several other pediatric and adult sarcomas, including rhabdomyosarcoma and osteosarcoma. Read more