NEW YORK – Cookies for Kids’ Cancer, a nonprofit foundation dedicated to raising funds and awareness for pediatric cancer research, announced a $100,000 grant to Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in support of a new therapy for neuroblastoma, the second most common type of solid tumor cancer in children.
Dr. Nai-Kong Cheung, head of Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center’s Neuroblastoma program and Haupt Chair in Pediatric Oncology, received the grant to support his BITE Antibody Therapy research.
“If this technology works on neuroblastoma, it will pave the way for other antibodies developed against neuroblastoma and other childhood cancers in our laboratory,” Chueng explained.
Previous research has shown that some patients with recurrent neuroblastoma benefit from immunotherapy during and after standard treatment. Similar to the vaccines given to babies and children to fight childhood illnesses, tumor vaccines can help teach immune cells to recognize and destroy cancer cells.
Neuroblastoma is the second most common solid tumor seen in children but causes about 15 percent of childhood cancer deaths each year. Pediatric cancer claims the lives of more children under the age of 18 in the United States than any other disease, but research for the disease has been historically under-funded. Because of this, approximately half of the treatments available are more than 20 years-old. Cookies for Kids’ Cancer’s goal is to fund therapies that give children battling cancer new, better, and safer options for overcoming the disease.
The grant to Cheung was one of the first awarded by Cookies for Kids’ Cancer, which was launched in September 2008. The goal of the organization is to raise funds for research through the concept of local bake sales. Two additional grants have been awarded by Cookies for Kids’ Cancer in 2010 with more planned for later in the year.
“Our focus is on funding the most promising clinical trials that will get to children as quickly as possible,” Cookies for Kids’ Cancer Founder Gretchen Witt said. “We have always believed that if people learn about the need for funding, they will support the cause. This grant represents the support of thousands of people who have held bake sales, bought cookies and believed, like we do, that we can and will make a difference in the lives of children battling cancer. We are very excited about the possibilities this therapy holds and look forward to seeing it move from the lab to a treatment room as quickly as possible.”
Cookies for Kids’ Cancer was founded in 2008 by Gretchen and Larry Witt, parents inspired by their son’s ongoing battle with pediatric cancer. The foundation, headquartered in New Jersey, started with a holiday cookie sale in 2007 which baked and sold 96,000 cookies with a team of more than 250 volunteers. The sale raised more than $400,000 in support of a promising pediatric cancer treatment and led to the founding of an organization that supports all types of pediatric cancer. Since the success of the first event, thousands of bake sales have been held across the United States, Canada, Puerto Rico, and the United Kindom. In addition to bake sales, gourmet cookies are offered year round with 100 percent of the profit going directly to pediatric cancer research. The organization operates with no overhead costs and directs every dollar raised to research. To learn more or get involved, visit www.cookiesforkidscancer.org.