Radical gene therapy offers hope to young cancer patients

Last Updated: Thursday, April 25, 2013 - 10:46

Melbourne: Australian doctors are using a radical gene therapy to treat a rare and aggressive childhood brain cancer, offering hope to young sufferers.

The clinical trial is underway at a Sydney-based Westmead Hospital which would help patients to tolerate higher doses of chemotherapy.

However, the doctors are yet to see it as a breakthrough but it is said that the gene therapy will eventually have a wider application in the treatment of many types of tumours, according to ABC (Australian Broadcasting Corporation) report today.

The trial sponsored by a charity is being conducted on a young Adelaide girl Erin Griffin.

The report said that initially it was thought she had a low-grade brain tumour which could potentially be treated with chemotherapy, but at 12, she was diagnosed with diffuse intrinsic pontine glioma (DIPG), a rare and aggressive cancer.

According to Erin`s mother Amanda, Erin was given a prognosis by one consultant of just six to nine months.

"It was horrific, absolutely horrific, because up until then we had been hoping and thinking that the treatment she was on was going to work, but it didn`t," she said adding "After that that`s when things got a bit more serious."

After two brain operations and 30 bouts of radiation therapy, Erin had exhausted all conventional treatment options.

Griffin went online for answers, only to be overcome by the lack of awareness and federal funding.

"I would have assumed that children being children and the rest of the life in front of them would be prioritised in terms of cancer research," she said.

"But, only 4 per cent of the federal funding goes towards childhood cancer research and out of that only a really small fraction goes to brain tumour research,".


First Published: Thursday, April 25, 2013 - 10:46

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