Childhood Cancer

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Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh Phase 1-2 Infrastructure Support Grant

University of Pittsburgh
A. Kim Ritchey, MD
Grant Type: 
Phase I/II Infrastructure Grants
Year Awarded: 
Type of Childhood Cancer: 
General Pediatric Cancer
Project Description: 

In simple terms, what is your research project?   

Support for a new pediatric cancer drug therapy at Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh of UPMC.

What type of childhood cancer does your project focus on?

While the success of treatment for childhood cancer has been very impressive over the past few decades, we still have not reached our goal of curing all children who develop a malignancy.  For children who have difficult to treat cancers or who have recurrence of their cancer new approaches to therapy including new drug treatments are necessary. Our research focuses on new drugs and therapies for all types of childhood cancer.  

What do you hope to achieve through your research and what will it mean to the world of childhood cancer if your project is successful?

The support provided by Alex's Lemonade Stand Foundation will allow us to continue and enhance our ongoing research in new drug discovery for childhood cancer. While we realize that not every new drug is a "home run," the history of the treatment of childhood cancer is a testimony to multiple small steps leading to big outcomes. With our research we hope to test many different drugs that have the potential for helping to cure children with cancer. Furthermore with the money provided by the Alex's Lemonade Stand grant we are able to help families of children with cancer who agree to participate in these clinical drug trials. We will utilize the support to disseminate information to medical centers in the region regarding the available trials. We will also provide support to families if they need to travel long distances to Pittsburgh for their treatment.  

In simple terms, how will you conduct your research (for example, lab based, clinical trial, are children directly involved)?

The type of new drug discovery research we performed is called phase I and phase II clinical research. In phase I clinical trials children who have failed initial therapy for their cancer are enrolled in new drug trials. The effects of these drugs in terms of side effects as well as positive effects are carefully monitored.  Frequently, laboratory based studies are involved to understand how these new drugs are metabolized in small bodies.  

What is innovative about the approach you are taking?

Most children's cancer programs do not have the ability to perform this type of clinical research.  Support from Alex's Lemonade Stand Foundation has allowed us to provide information about these new drug trials to hospitals and families in the region and uniquely offer support if they are interested in participating in these trials.

Are you collaborating with others on this project?

Our proposal is to try to recruit families to the phase I and phase II drug trials from other institutions.  As such we will have close collaboration with their primary oncologists and, of course, insure communication at every step in the process of the clinical research.