Grants - Designated Grants - California - 2017

Judith Villablanca, M.D.

Funded by WWE and the Dick Vitale Gala in memory of John Saunders

High-risk neuroblastoma (HR-NB) remains a challenge in childhood cancer, with five year survival of only 50%, despite improvements seen from intensive chemotherapy, radiation therapy, isotretinoin, and immunotherapy. Indeed, therapy has reached a maximum tolerable intensity and survivors often have lifelong treatment-related disabilities.  Further advances require increased understanding of the fundamental molecular basis of neuroblastoma and the development of more individualized targeted therapies. The New Approaches to Neuroblastoma Therapy (NANT) consortium is an established collaboration between clinical and laboratory investigators which has developed innovative treatments based on identifying novel mechanisms of therapy resistance and targetable genetic/epigenetic abnormalities. Biology studies are part of all clinical trials, and provide samples to collaborating labs to further test and improve their strategies. NANT includes 15 highly motivated and geographically distributed pediatric cancer centers and 4 guest members (including sites in Australia, United Kingdom and France). NANT is the only consortium solely dedicated to early phase trials of novel agents and biomarkers for relapsed/refractory HR-NB.  NANT provides the clinical expertise and established infrastructure to translate novel laboratory findings into early phase clinical trials that provide the necessary safety and preliminary tumor response data to inform (inter)national trials to test the impact of NANT-developed therapies on improving patient outcomes. Ongoing translational work in NANT is focused on immunotherapy, targeting specific biologic pathways in tumor cells and in the tumor’s environment that promote tumor survival, and individualizing therapy based on patient-specific variables that change over the continuum of cancer care.