September 26, 2023, Charlottesville, Virginia— The Focused Ultrasound Foundation and St. Baldrick’s Foundation today announced their co-funding partnership in the fight against childhood cancer with a joint $115,000 pledge to support treatment research for diffuse intrinsic pontine glioma (DIPG), also called diffuse midline glioma (DMG). DIPG/DMG is an aggressive type of cancer that forms in the brainstem of children; there is currently no cure for DIPG/DMG, and the average life expectancy after diagnosis is roughly one year.
The partnership will fund the St. Baldrick’s Scholar Award bestowed to Dr. Cheng-Chia Wu, MD, PhD, assistant professor of radiation oncology at Columbia University. Dr. Wu is currently leading preclinical trials using novel approaches such as noninvasive focused ultrasound technology to treat DIPG/DMG. As a St. Baldrick’s Scholar, Dr. Wu will launch a new study to investigate whether focused ultrasound can enhance delivery of a chemotherapy drug (Etoposide) in a DIPG/DMG animal model, and whether radiation can enhance this effect. This research will ideally lead to more well-designed clinical trials and eventually clinical treatments for DIPG/DMG patients.
Focused ultrasound is a rapidly evolving technology using sound waves to target tissue deep in the brain without incisions or radiation. Although radiotherapy is the current standard of care for children with DIPG/DMG, there is an abundance of work in the field to explore more effective therapies, including focused ultrasound.
“We are grateful to be working alongside St. Baldrick’s to move the needle on finding a cure for this deadly disease,” said Neal Kassell, MD, former neurosurgeon and founder of the Focused Ultrasound Foundation. “Focused ultrasound is one of the first promising medical breakthroughs in treating DIPG/DMG in decades. We are eager to learn the findings of this ground-breaking research so that more lives can be saved.”
“Together, the Focused Ultrasound Foundation and St. Baldrick’s Foundation are pioneering a new era in the fight against DIPG/DMG, bringing hope and progress to a difficult battle,” said Kathleen Ruddy, St. Baldrick’s Foundation CEO. “This partnership signifies significant progress in DIPG/DMG treatment, and we are looking forward to its potential life-saving impact.”
The trial is in its preclinical phase and will launch soon. Dr. Wu will be conducting the study over the course of four years.
About the Focused Ultrasound Foundation
The Focused Ultrasound Foundation was created to improve the lives of millions of people worldwide by accelerating the development of this noninvasive technology. The Foundation works to clear the path to global adoption by organizing and funding research, fostering collaboration, and building awareness among patients and professionals. Since its establishment in 2006, the Foundation has become the largest nongovernmental source of funding for focused ultrasound research.
About St. Baldrick’s Foundation
Every 2 minutes, a child somewhere in the world is diagnosed with cancer. In the U.S., 1 in 5 will not survive. The St. Baldrick’s Foundation, the largest charity funder of childhood cancer research grants, is on a mission to Conquer Kids’ Cancer by supporting the most promising research to find cures and better treatments for all childhood cancers. When you give to St. Baldrick’s, you don’t just give to one hospital – you support virtually every institution with the expertise to treat kids with cancer across the U.S. St. Baldrick’s ensures that children fighting cancer now — and those diagnosed in the future — will have access to the most cutting-edge treatment, by supporting every stage of research, from new ideas in the lab to the training of the next generation of researchers, to lifesaving clinical trials. Visit StBaldricks.org and help #ConquerKidsCancer.
Allison Preston Smith