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Telethon Kids Institute Cancer Centre researcher, Dr Raelene Endersby, will work to develop less toxic treatments for children with brain cancer, thanks to support from a Cancer Council WA Research Fellowship.

Dr Endersby has been awarded a Cancer Council WA Research Fellowship worth almost $500,000, which will seek to test two experimental cancer drugs combines with low-dose radiation to determine if the combination is more effective for children with medulloblastoma.

Dr Endersby, who is the co-head of Telethon Kids Institute’s Brain Cancer Research group, said using lower-dose radiation with a new combination of drugs would mean fewer side effects for young patients.

“High dose radiotherapy can be extremely toxic for young patients – the side effects can be devastating, and we need to find a better way to treat these kids,” she said.

“Our early data shows that the combination of two new cancer drugs could be more effective at killing cancer cells and would only require a low dose of radiotherapy.”

Our CEO, Ashley Reid, said he was thrilled that Dr Raelene Endersby had been awarded the 2020-2023 Cancer Council WA Research Fellowship.

“Cancer Council WA\’s Research Fellowships fund outstanding biomedical and health researchers working in the field of cancer so that they can undertake research of major importance,” Mr Reid said.

“They provide salary support for up to four years with the aim of advancing the quality and impact of cancer research in WA and promoting collaboration and partnerships, locally, nationally and internationally.

"Cancer Council WA is committed to achieving the best outcomes for cancer patients and their families and creating a cancer-free future, so it's important for us to support exciting research such as Dr Endersby's that has the potential to increase survival rates for children with brain cancer medulloblastoma."

Dr Raelene Endersby Telethon Kids Institute Cancer Centre researcher image 6

One of the drugs that will be used in the research is a synthetic treatment, shown in lab studies to kill more cancer cells than radiation alone. The other is an immunotherapy drug which has shown to be exceptionally effective in early lab studies.

Dr Endersby said the Fellowship would be the first time the two drugs have been used in this way on lab models of childhood brain cancers, and the research has been designed in response to hearing from parents about harsh impacts radiation has on children who survive cancer.

“High dose radiotherapy can be extremely toxic for young patients – parents have told me that the side effects can be devastating. This is what motivates us to find a better way to treat these kids,” Dr Endersby said.

“If the lab work proves the combination of these drugs with low-dose radiotherapy is effective, we would seek to move to clinical trials quickly.

“This would be the first time a new treatment for brain cancer has been developed in 30 years.”

Medulloblastoma is the most common brain cancer in children. Not all children can be cured and around 30% will die.

Cancer Council WA Research Grants Program

Thanks to the generosity of our incredible supporters, we remain the largest charitable funder of independent cancer research in WA.

Thanks to your support, in the 2020/2021 financial year we have invested over $2.6 million to support 80 local cancer researchers across more than 40 projects.

Follow the links below to find out more about the projects we have been able to fund in 2021 thanks to community donations and support.

Continued investment in high quality, locally relevant research is the key to building momentum towards a cancer free future. Find out how you can support cancer research.