Donate and support INFORM

One in five children suffers a relapse after initially successful treatment and then, standard therapies no longer work. The cancer cells are then often already resistant to the usual treatment methods and there is little prospect of a cure. Physicians then usually have very little time to fight the cancer again, often only a few months on average. The INFORM (INdividualized Therapy FOr Relapsed Malignancies in Childhood) program coordinated at KiTZ aims to provide children with cancer worldwide with new treatment options as quickly as possible if the cancer returns or there are no established therapies.

In a race against time, INFORM scientists are looking for molecular targets for innovative therapies that are tailored precisely to the patient's individual tumor. For this purpose, a tumor sample from the respective patient is sent to Heidelberg, where a precise molecular analysis of the altered genetic information of the tumor is carried out (tumor sequencing) in order to identify its weak points and attack them individually with the use of a targeted drug. 

At the same time, "mini-tumors" are taken from the tumor sample in the laboratory, on which around 80 drugs are tested in order to refine the treatment recommendation and identify an effective drug (drug testing). INFORM is often the last hope for patients with a relapse.

Until the beginning of 2023, INFORM was largely financed by project funding and donations. Since the beginning of the year, many German health insurance companies have been covering the costs of molecular tumor analyses after their benefits were proven. INFORM is therefore also a success story of private research funding. However, INFORM remains dependent on private commitment in order to further develop diagnostics, for example through drug testing. A second major goal is to generate new clinical studies from the findings of the individual case analyses. This allows to further develop successful therapy trials into standard therapies that are immediately and equally available to all patients. In order to succeed with this endeveaour, we continue to need your donation.

Donation account "INFORM - A second chance"

Recipient: KiTZ
Bank institute: Sparkasse Heidelberg
IBAN: DE39 6725 0020 0009 3471 00
Purpose: INFORM


Recipient: DKFZ
Bank institute: Sparkasse Heidelberg
IBAN: DE98 6725 0020 0005 0000 50
Purpose: INFORM

If we are allowed to issue you with a donation receipt, please include your full address in the reference field of your bank transfer. Donation receipts are issued in accordance with the German model.

In INFORM, patients receive a precise analysis of the altered genetic information of their tumor at the time of relapse. The tumour material obtained is characterized as precisely as possible using state-of-the-art molecular genetic methods. The molecular changes that the tumor causes in the cells are like the "fingerprint" of a criminal. This fingerprint is used to convict the "perpetrator", i.e. the tumor can be correctly classified and diagnosed. This is actually difficult in some cases, for example if the tumor is unusually localized or if different stages of a tumor look very similar under the microscope. Once the "culprit" has been correctly identified, the prerequisite is created for the use of a targeted drug against the individual tumor.

How does drug testing work?

In addition to the molecular tumor analyses, the tumor sample is subjected to drug testing whenever possible in order to specify the therapy recommendation and identify an effective drug. The tissue samples from the young patients grow into mini-tumors in the laboratory. Around 80 drugs are then tested on these mini-tumors, which are clinically available and can therefore be used immediately for treatment.

It takes a total of four weeks from sample receipt for all INFORM data to be available and evaluated by an interdisciplinary tumor board made up of experts in paediatric oncology, human genetics, bioinformatics, molecular biology and (neuro-)pathology. The attending physician also takes part in this process so that he or she can then make a recommendation to the affected families. The recommendation can be, for example, a therapy or the patient's participation in a clinical trial. If this is not possible, individual treatment trials can also be considered on the basis of the results. In some cases, the INFORM results may also lead to a correction of the diagnosis or identify hereditary forms of cancer that are associated with a familial risk, which may be relevant for treatment decisions.

INFORM pools the currently available pediatric oncology expertise.

To date, INFORM is the only project in Germany and one of the few in Europe in which children's cancer genomes are decoded within a few weeks and patients can benefit directly from the results. INFORM therefore receives samples not only from Germany, but from 100 centers in 12 countries. At the same time, INFORM relies not only on the expertise of the 40 local employees working for INFORM in Heidelberg. Under the umbrella of the Society for Pediatric Oncology and Hematology (GPOH), 18 study groups and over 50 recruitment centers throughout Germany are involved in the INFORM registry. In INFORM, all currently possible technical, logistical, scientific and medical options are being exploited to give every single patient in a hopeless situation a chance of an effective therapy after all. In a network comprising twelve European countries and Israel, INFORM brings together the pediatric oncology expertise currently available in the fight for every child suffering from cancer. 2,500 children and adolescents have already received a molecular analysis of their tumor and an individual therapy recommendation through INFORM.