TeamConnor is honored to partner with the St. Baldrick’s Foundation and StandUp2Cancer to fund the Dream Team
Its mission: Bring together 2 separate scientific fields – genomics and immunotherapy – to find cures for many of the most hard-to-treat childhood cancers.
“Lightning in a bottle” – That’s how experts have described this team and its incredibly fast impact. The Dream Team has
- Pushed the first gene therapies over the finish line for FDA approval
- Treated more than 930 patients on 34 clinical trials
- Discovered new immunotherapy targets that can be game-changers
Intensive chemotherapy alone, or delivered with surgery, radiation therapy and/or bone marrow transplantation dramatically improved survival rates for children’s cancers during the latter quarter of the 20th century. However, cure rates have plateaued since the 1990s, and for some children’s cancers, little progress has been made since the 1970s despite concerted efforts. More than half of the children who survive their cancer experience severe lifelong side effects that shorten their lifespan and diminish the quality of their life. The field needs to move beyond chemotherapy-based treatment, and toward entirely new classes of therapies in order to increase cure rates for children with cancer and decrease the financial, emotional, and life-altering costs of cure. Immune therapies have shown impressive activity in children with chemotherapy-resistant leukemia and neuroblastoma, results that illustrate the potential for immunotherapy to harness the power of children’s immune systems to treat cancer. Early signals of response are also being observed in brain tumors and sarcomas and evidence to date suggests that immunotherapies are unlikely to induce chronic toxicity as occurs with dose-intensive chemoradiotherapy. While immunotherapy has shown much promise, much work remains to be done if we are to realize its full potential as a fourth pillar for the treatment of children’s cancers. Given the small market size, translational studies needed to develop and optimize new therapies will not be conducted efficiently by the biopharma sector and must be led by academia. The Pediatric Cancer Dream Team (PCDT) is a multi-institutional, collaborative network of senior investigators, junior investigators, trainees, and advocates from 10 centers across North America who have worked together since 2013 to develop new immunotherapies for children’s cancers, and was recognized with the 2021 AACR Team Science Award for collaborative achievements. This proposal will enable the PCDT to continue their work aimed at developing new immunotherapies for the treatment of children and young adult cancers, with focused efforts on solid tumors, brain tumors and acute myelogenous leukemia, areas of huge unmet need. The proposal leverages existing infrastructure and collaborations already in place and will build new ones where appropriate, to accomplish the overarching goal of bringing new, effective therapies to the clinic for incurable children’s cancers. The PCDT serves as a unique, essential nexus that can take fundamental discoveries and translate these into novel effective therapies for the most difficult-to-treat children’s cancers.