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BIRMINGHAM – The Vince Lombardi Cancer Foundation (VLCF) presented a $150,000 grant to Children’s of Alabama today to continue funding research on groundbreaking Tumor Xenograft Study.
The grant will fund continued research by Drs. Elizabeth Beierle; Jamie Aye; Karina Yoon and Kimberly Whelan. Children’s is home to one of the largest pediatric tumor banks in the country and will be expanding its study by partnering with other local studies that collect blood and treatment data. This grant will support research to improve understanding of the biological drivers of high-risk pediatric cancer leading to innovative therapies.
“While the overall survival rate for pediatric cancer patients has risen to greater than 80 percent, the remaining patients with rare or recurrent cancers represent a significant challenge to treat,” said Dr. Whelan, Acting Director, Alabama Center for Childhood Cancer and Blood Disorders, UAB Associate Professor of Pediatrics, Division of Pediatric Hematology-Oncology. “New therapeutic strategies are essential to improve the clinical outcome for patients with high-risk or relapsed pediatric cancers.”
One patient the research has already helped is 7-year-old Grace Bittick of Mountain Brook. Grace’s parents never imagined the tummy aches that woke her in the middle of the night would prove to be kidney cancer. Grace was diagnosed with Stage III Wilms’ Tumor in October 2014, and immediately began aggressive treatment that included chemotherapy, radiation and surgery. Grace relapsed in April 2015, and required additional treatment, but she’s currently cancer-free.
The use of primary human patient tumor xenografts has been well established in the study of human brain tumors and adult solid tumors. These models, however, are rarely available for investigation in pediatric patients. Experts believe there is tremendous potential to improve care for children in the future through an expanded tissue bank. Dr. Whelan said the long-term goal is to identify agents that are effective treatments for children with tumors.
About The Vince Lombardi Cancer Foundation
Established in 1971, the foundation embodies the spirit, enthusiasm and commitment to excellence of Green Bay Packers Coach Vince Lombardi, who lost his own battle to cancer on Sept. 3, 1970. In his honor, the foundation is committed to raising funds for advancements in cancer research and compassionate care. For more information on the Vince Lombardi Cancer Foundation, visit lombardifoundation.org, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.
In 2017, Bart and Cherry Starr introduced the Starr Children's Fund which is dedicated to raising funds to support pediatric cancer research and treatments. Bart Starr’s legacy on the football field is matched by his charitable legacy. After Vince Lombardi passed away from colon cancer in 1970, Bart and Cherry Starr graciously accepted the role of Honorary Chairpersons of the first annual Vince Lombardi Memorial Golf Classic. They tirelessly served as Honorary Chairpersons of the Vince Lombardi Cancer Foundation for 44 years and contributed to raising more than $16 million to help fight cancer.
About Children’s of Alabama
Since 1911, Children’s of Alabama has provided specialized medical care for ill and injured children. Ranked among the best pediatric medical centers in the nation by U.S. News & World Report, Children’s provided care for youngsters from every county in Alabama, 42 other states and seven foreign countries last year, representing more than 677,000 outpatient visits and more than 15,000 inpatient admissions. With more than 2 million square feet, it is one of the largest pediatric medical facilities in the United States. Children’s offers inpatient and outpatient services across its Russell Campus on Birmingham’s historic Southside with additional specialty services provided at Children’s South, Children’s on 3rd and in Huntsville and Montgomery. Primary care is provided at more than a dozen medical offices in communities across central Alabama. Children’s of Alabama is the only medical center in Alabama dedicated solely to the care and treatment of children. It is a private, not-for-profit medical center that serves as the primary site of the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB) pediatric medicine, surgery, psychiatry, research and residency programs. More information is available at childrensal.org.
About the Alabama Center for Childhood Cancer and Blood Disorders
The Alabama Center for Childhood Cancer and Blood Disorders provides care and treatment for children and adolescents with all types of cancers and blood disorders. The center serves more than 1,500 cancer and sickle cell patients each year. The team of more than 300 dedicated pediatric healthcare professionals provides exceptional patient care, education and research. As a founding member of the Children’s Oncology Group – a worldwide clinical trials organization supported by the National Cancer Institute – research and innovative therapies done at Children’s of Alabama and the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB) will help save the lives of children right down the street and all over the world. More information is available at www.childrensal.org/cancer.