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Children’s, UAB Join Prestigious Pediatric Cancer Consortium

BIRMINGHAM – Children’s of Alabama has been accepted into the Pacific Pediatric Neuro-Oncology Consortium (PNOC), a unique clinical trials consortium focusing on personalized therapy approaches for children with malignant brain tumors.

Children’s joins 26 top children’s hospitals from the United States, Canada, Australia and Europe to focus on personalized medicine, testing new therapies that are specific to the biology of each patient’s tumor to maximize their effectiveness with the goal to improve overall outcome for children with brain tumors.

Collaboration with other leading institutions through consortiums like PNOC offers many advantages to researchers, clinicians, and ultimately to young patients, said Girish Dhall, M.D., director of the Division of Pediatric Hematology, Oncology and Blood & Marrow Transplantation at Children’s and the University of Alabama at Birmingham.

“The only way to get access to certain cutting-edge or state-of-the-art clinical trials is to be invited by a drug company working on a multi-institution trial or in trials run by these consortia,” Dhall said. “This means we have access to a multitude of open trials and our patients don’t have to go out of state to be enrolled in trials testing promising experimental drugs that are not yet FDA-approved.”

Children’s and UAB were selected due to the transformative work ongoing at its Alabama Center for Childhood Cancer and Blood Disorders, where more than 1,500 patients with cancer and blood disorders seek treatment each year.

Unlike other consortia, PNOC’s clinical trial portfolio includes neurosurgery trials with techniques such as convection-enhanced delivery, fluorescent agents and advanced imaging compounds.

“Traditionally we use chemotherapy or radiation therapy for these cancers, but both just kill rapidly dividing cells and don’t discriminate between cells inside the cancer and cells that might normally be rapidly dividing inside the body,” he said. “The focus has shifted to understanding specifically what makes these cancer cells grow and divide by studying the DNA, RNA and protein inside the cancer cells and to develop therapies that improve the efficacy but reduce toxicity to normal cells at the same time.”

Of PNOC’s current open clinical trials, Children’s will launch its participation in two: one in children with a uniformly fatal tumor called diffuse intrinsic pontine glioma, or DIPG, and another that combines two drugs for children with refractory or recurrent low-grade gliomas.

About Children’s of Alabama

Since 1911, Children’s of Alabama has provided specialized medical care for ill and injured children, offering inpatient, outpatient and primary care throughout central Alabama. Ranked among the best children’s hospitals in the nation by U.S. News & World Report, Children’s serves patients from every county in Alabama and nearly every state. Children’s is a private, not-for-profit medical center that serves as the teaching hospital for the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB) pediatric medicine, surgery, psychiatry, research and residency programs. The medical staff consists of UAB faculty and Children’s full-time physicians as well as private practicing community physicians.

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