Today we'd like to say a big thank you to the Lott for their generous donation of $600,000 to the Zero Childhood Cancer Program.
Cancer remains the biggest killer of children from disease in Australia. ZERO is Australia's first precision medicine program treating children who have been given less than a 30% chance of surviving their cancer diagnosis.
Led by Children's Cancer Institute and Kids Cancer Centre at Sydney Children's Hospital, Randwick, ZERO brings together all major Australian clinical and research centres working in childhood cancer as well as international collaborations.
Since its national clinical trial launched in September 2017, more than 500 children and young people with high-risk cancer have been enrolled. For over 70% of these patients, the program has successfully identified a personalised treatment plan to target the specific genetic changes driving their unique cancer, in under nine weeks.
Children's Cancer Institute's Executive Director Professor Michelle Haber AM said the donation would allow more seriously ill Australian children to enrol in Zero Childhood Cancer's ground-breaking program.
"Zero Childhood Cancer is about giving children smarter, targeted therapy by identifying the unique genetic changes of each child's cancer and using that to identify what drugs are going to be best placed to fight that cancer," she explained.
"It's about improving the outcome for every individual child and sparing the child of the side effects of other aggressive and unsuccessful treatments. It's donations like this one today that allow us to expand this program and ensure more children have access to targeted treatment."
Nowhere does this ground-breaking program matter more than on oncology wards. Clinical Research Leader and oncologist Professor Tracey O'Brien says the possibility of new cancer treatments for children is urgently needed.
"This research program is disrupting how we think about treating childhood cancer which is very exciting. We are generating new knowledge and applying this to rapidly accelerate the use of experimental therapies where traditional chemotherapy has failed or unlikely to work. This is what every parent wants and every child with cancer deserves," says Prof O'Brien
Zero Childhood Cancer Program Leader, A/Prof Vanessa Tyrrell said Australian children battling cancer have already seen extraordinary results.
"For all the children who have had a treatment recommendation made, and for those who had the treatment administered, over 70% have had some kind of response," she explained.
"Their aggressive tumour has either been stabilised or their tumour has shrunk. I could never have imagined that we would have achieved that in the first five years of the Program. It's truly exciting.
"We're here and we do what we do because we all believe there needs to be a future where every child is able to have access to the right treatment, at the right time, the first time, every time, so zero children are dying from cancer.
The Lott's $600,000 contribution will be used to enhance the research capabilities of the Zero Childhood Cancer Program, to give every child with cancer in Australia the very best chance of survival.
The Lott Managing Director Sue van der Merwe said Australia's official lotteries was proud to continue its support of this revolutionary team on its aspirational mission of curing childhood cancer.
"Last year, we were honoured to donate $600,000 to Zero Childhood Cancer to help fund its national clinical trial, and we are thrilled to continue supporting the team on their incredible mission," she said.
"This partnership continues a long-held tradition of Australian lotteries funding vital health and medical initiatives. We're committed to giving back to the communities in which we operate and achieving better outcomes for childhood cancer is something we are particularly passionate about.
"This program is giving new hope to families and children going through an unimaginable ordeal. We want more children with cancer to have the opportunity to access personalised cancer treatment plans, and with today's $600,000 donation, along with the incredible work from the research and clinical partners, that will be possible."
The donation from The Lott, the home of Australia's official lotteries, includes some Golden Casket unclaimed prize money.
Last financial year, Australia's Official Lotteries contributed more than $1.4 billion via state lottery taxes and donations to help community initiatives, such as hospitals, health research, disaster relief and education.