€5.7 million for novel treatment approaches in pediatric brain cancer

Heidelberg, June 29, 2017. Children with low grade brain cancer usually suffer many years of distress. An international initiative that is coordinated at the German Cancer Research Center (DKFZ) and the Hopp Children's Tumor Center (KiTZ) at the National Center for Tumor Diseases (NCT) Heidelberg has now been established with the goal of changing this. Research teams from Heidelberg and London aim to gain better understanding of the biology of low grade pediatric brain tumors and to use these findings to develop novel treatment approaches. The British Brain Tumour Charity provides funds of €5.7 million to support the project, which was launched in late June.

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The “Hopp Children's Cancer Center at the NCT Heidelberg” (KiTZ) is a joint institution of the Heidelberg University Hospital and the German Cancer Research Center (DKFZ).

A child who suffers from low grade brain cancer usually has very good chances of survival. However, therapy is often very long and stressful. In addition, the difficult location of the tumor often makes it impossible to remove it completely. Then there is a danger that it might come back after some time.

Although the disease and its consequences often affect patients throughout their lifetimes, research into low grade brain cancer has not received much funding in the past. At the newly founded Everest Centre, scientists from KiTZ in Heidelberg will collaborate with researchers of UCL Great Ormond Street Institute of Child Health and the Blizard Institute of Queen Mary University in London to uncover the biological basics of this complex disease and use their findings to develop novel, targeted and gentler treatment approaches.

"The Everest Centre initiative will now enable us much better to investigate low grade brain tumors, which are rather common in children," said David Jones, who pursues research at DKFZ and KiTZ in Heidelberg and coordinates the network from there. "For the first time, we can give this type of tumor the attention that is needed in order to be able to offer affected children more effective and gentler therapies some day."

Low grade brain tumors constitute the largest group of tumors of the central nervous system. Each year, more than 250 children and adolescents under 18 are diagnosed with this type of tumor in Germany alone. Low grade brain cancer arises from transformed cells in the brain or spinal cord. However, the risk of tumor cells spreading to other parts of the body is low.

The name of 'Everest Centre' was inspired by a spectacular activity that a father of an affected child undertook to draw attention to his son's debilitating disease story. In a group of 14 skiers, he climbed alpine slopes for four days until they had climbed the equivalent of the height of Mount Everest, thus raising £3 million for the Brain Tumour Charity.

About Us
The German Cancer Research Center (Deutsches Krebsforschungszentrum, DKFZ)
The German Cancer Research Center (Deutsches Krebsforschungszentrum, DKFZ) with its more than 3,000 employees is the largest biomedical research institute in Germany. At DKFZ, more than 1,000 scientists investigate how cancer develops, identify cancer risk factors and endeavor to find new strategies to prevent people from getting cancer. They develop novel approaches to make tumor diagnosis more precise and treatment of cancer patients more successful. The staff of the Cancer Information Service (KID) offers information about the widespread disease of cancer for patients, their families, and the general public. Jointly with Heidelberg University Hospital, DKFZ has established the National Center for Tumor Diseases (NCT) Heidelberg, where promising approaches from cancer research are translated into the clinic. In the German Consortium for Translational Cancer Research (DKTK), one of six German Centers for Health Research, DKFZ maintains translational centers at seven university partnering sites. Combining excellent university hospitals with high-profile research at a Helmholtz Center is an important contribution to improving the chances of cancer patients. DKFZ is a member of the Helmholtz Association of National Research Centers, with ninety percent of its funding coming from the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research and the remaining ten percent from the State of Baden-Württemberg.

The Hopp Children's Cancer Center at NCT Heidelberg (KiTZ)
The „Hopp Children's Cancer Center at the NCT Heidelberg” (KiTZ) is a joint institution of the Heidelberg University Hospital and the German Cancer Research Center (DKFZ). As a therapy and research center for oncologic and hematologic diseases in children and adolescents, the KiTZ is committed to scientifically exploring the biology of childhood cancer and to closely linking promising research approaches with patient care– from diagnosis to treatment and aftercare. Children suffering from cancer, especially those with no established therapy options, are given an individual therapy plan in the KiTZ, which is created by interdisciplinary expert groups in so-called tumor boards. Many young patients can participate in clinical trials which ensures access to new therapy options. Thus, the KiTZ is a pioneering institution for transferring research knowledge from the laboratory to the clinic.

Media contact:

Dr. Elke Matuschek
Manager Media and Public Relations
„Hopp Children`s Cancer Center at the NCT Heidelberg“ (KiTZ)
Im Neuenheimer Feld 350
69120 Heidelberg
T: 06221 5636434
E-Mail: e.matuschek(at)dkfz-heidelberg.de