Understanding the Childhood Cancer Funding Gap

The Atlantic just published a short article titled Our Disproportionate Focus on Adult Over Pediatric Cancer Research that is required reading to understand the funding gaps between Childhood and Adult Cancers.

Some key excerpts from the article:

[C]hildren with cancer could benefit sufficiently from more research into pediatric-specific treatments. While adult-oriented chemotherapy is proven to help cure cancer, it has innumerable side effects. Even though the treatments are approved for children, they are also the same used for adults, just at a lower dose.

But there is not enough funding for childhood cancer, specifically. The National Cancer Institute, a government organization, provides funding for researchers, but only 10 percent of them can move forward with their findings due to budget cuts. Most of the financial support researchers receive is from philanthropists.

In the meantime, research that could benefit children on an individual level stays in the lab, and doctors prescribe the same regimens that can be successful, but can also hurt the patient in several ways. Researchers say they are working hard to discover new theories and treatments, but they feel they are being held back.

The article continues, quoting Dr. Andy Kolb, a pediatric oncologist at A.I. DuPont:

The federal government has tried to improve community and industry investments, but their measures have fallen short, said Dr. Andy Kolb. Acts have been revised to incentivize testing for children, so that pharmaceutical companies would earn more money. However, it doesn’t incentivize positive results, Kolb said.

“Even if a drug has potential, there’s no requirement to do additional testing,” he said.

In the same time period, there were about four drugs approved for children as opposed to about 200 for adults, Kolb said. Instead of focusing on the next adult cancer drug, and testing it on children, he says, they need to find the next childhood cancer drug and test it on adult cancer.

“We’re at an age where drug discoveries and targeted therapies are exploding. Few of them have been effectively used in children,” Kolb said. “While it’s an exciting time to be a cancer researcher, the benefit has not filtered down to children with cancer.”

The Get Well Gabby Foundation will be making an announcement in the coming weeks about a research project of Dr. Kolb’s we will be helping to fund, thanks to your generous support!

And yes, if you’ve donated to The Get Well Gabby Foundation, now or in the past,  according to the Atlantic, you are officially a philanthropist. It feels good, doesn’t it?

Read the whole article: Our Disproportionate Focus on Adult Over Pediatric Cancer Research on the Atlantic.

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