ORLANDO, Fla., January 13, 2017 -- Due to the success of Cannonball Kids’ cancer (CKc) Foundation’s first-ever end-of-year marketing campaign in 2016, the foundation announced a $100,000 grant to fund a clinical trial for DIPG (Diffuse Intrinsic Pontine Glioma), a deadly pediatric cancer with zero long-term survivors. The trial is the first-of-its-kind in the U.S. and will be led by Dr. Sabine Mueller at the Benioff Children’s Hospital, University of California, San Francisco. Over the next two years, up to 18 children on the trial will receive the potentially life-changing treatment for DIPG. This trial has a promising outlook for treatment of DIPG, and could impact the drug delivery system for other types of brain cancer as well, saving more children’s lives. The grant was awarded in honor of Gabriella Miller of Washington D.C., who would have turned 14 this month. Gabriella passed away in 2013 at the age of nine from DIPG, just 11½ months after diagnosis.
“It is unconscionable that in 2017, we still have a type of pediatric cancer that has zero survivors. In fact, most children diagnosed with DIPG will die within one year of diagnosis. We won’t accept that. We want to change that statistic,” said Melissa Wiggins, Cannonball Kids’ cancer Foundation’s co-founder and executive director.
Over the last twenty years, the prognosis for DIPG has remained status quo. This new trial involves using a new drug delivery system along with a HDAC inhibitor drug (Panobinostat) that determines which genes turn on and off. This treatment optimizes direct delivery of the drugs to the whole tumor between the cells. The drug has a promising outlook for treatment of DIPG and the goal is to create more hope for other brain cancers with this new approach.
“The support from the Cannonball Kid’s cancer Foundation is critical and sets the stage for the development of an exciting and promising new therapeutic option for children with pontine gliomas – one of the most devastating cancers any family can experience. Without their support, we would have not been able to move this development forward so quickly,” said Dr. Mueller.
Including this DIPG trial, CKc has funded a total of five clinical research trials since the foundation began funding trials in 2015, for a total of almost $300,000 in grants awarded. The trials are providing almost 40 children in 10 states with access to “bench-to-bedside” treatments that could help give the chance to live to children who have previously been told there was nothing more to be done to save them.
“Our mission is to fund innovative and accessible research for children to provide better treatments and quality of life,” said Michael Wiggins, CKc co-founder and chairman of the board. “If proven safe through the trial, this cutting-edge treatment can be used not just for DIPG but for all kinds of brain cancer thus impacting and, most importantly, saving the lives of more children.”
Cannonball Kids’ cancer was founded in June 2014 by Michael and Melissa Wiggins, parents of Cannon Wiggins. When Cannon was 20 months old, he was diagnosed with Stage IV high-risk neuroblastoma. During Cannon’s treatment, Michael and Melissa learned little time, effort and funding is devoted to finding cures for children’s cancer compared to adult cancers and, as a result, children are unnecessarily and unjustly lost. CKc aims to stop the tragic reality of children suffering and dying because of the lack of research in the world of children’s cancer treatments.