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SebastianStrong Awards $225,000 Discovery Science Grant for Childhood Brain Cancer Research

Foundation’s support of DIPG cancer treatment is the latest among the $1.2 million in research grants distributed for innovative, less toxic childhood cancer treatments and cures
MIAMI (Aug. 5, 2020) – The SebastianStrong Foundation has selected Yale Cancer Center’s Ranjithmenon Muraleedharan, M.D., as the recipient of the organization’s 2020 Discovery Science Award. The $225,000 grant will fund a three-year project to develop a new treatment approach for diffuse intrinsic pontine glioma (DIPG), the most common brainstem tumor in children, which has a five-year survival rate of less than one percent.
DIPG is a destructive pediatric brain cancer that develops in the area of the brain responsible for the control of essential functions. Any damage resulting from either the tumor itself or treatment has devastating repercussions. Because DIPG cells spread out between normal brain cells, surgical removal of these tumors is not an option.
“Through Sebastian’s diagnosis with rhabdomyosarcoma, we learned that childhood cancers remain a great unknown in the medical field, with limited resources and funding available to advance treatments that can improve these children’s quality of life,” said Sebastian’s father Oscar Ortiz, executive director and co-founder of SebastianStrong. “We created the Discovery Science Award to enable researchers to think out-of-the-box to find new treatments and cures, because even one child lost to cancer is one too many.”
Dr. Muraleedharan’s research will assess whether a NAMPT inhibitor-based treatment strategy will be effective against DIPG. He will test specific targeted inhibitors in combination with radiation therapy and DNA-damaging therapies and aims to move his therapy into clinical trials within three years.
“The project to advance understanding of a newly identified pathway of vulnerability in DIPG tumors by Dr. Muraleedharan offers an innovative approach to significantly improving outcomes for one of the deadliest cancers that affect children,” said Matteo Trucco, M.D., oncologist and hematologist at the Cleveland Clinic and member of SebastianStrong’s Medical Advisory Board.
Endorsed by the CureSearch for Children’s Cancer organization, Dr. Muraleedharan’s project was one of several submitted by prominent research institutions for Discovery Science Award consideration. The Discovery Science Award is granted to research projects that are struggling to acquire funding and that use leading-edge methodologies and approaches in the quest for less toxic childhood cancer treatments and cures. The projects must lead to clinical trials within one to three years in order to qualify, and all proposals are vetted by SebastianStrong’s Medical Advisory Board, which is comprised of leading pediatric oncologists from across the country. Nine awards have been granted to-date, totaling more than $1.2 million in childhood cancer research funding provided by SebastianStrong Foundation.
About SebastianStrong Foundation
SebastianStrong Foundation is a 501(c)3 nonprofit that is raising awareness of childhood cancers and funding research for less toxic, more targeted childhood cancer treatments and cures. SebastianStrong was founded in 2017 to honor the life of Sebastian Ortiz (2000-2016) and his courageous 14-month battle with rhabdomyosarcoma. Since then, the Foundation has awarded more than $1.2 million in grants to fund new and cutting-edge medical research across the country in the hopes of one day eradicating childhood cancers. The Foundation also provides financial support to assist kids and their families with the hardships of battling cancer.
To learn more, follow us at @SebsStrong (Instagram and Twitter) and @SebastianStrong (Facebook), and visit us at www.SebastianStrong.org.
About CureSearch
CureSearch for Children’s Cancer, a national nonprofit organization based in Bethesda, MD, works to end childhood cancer by driving targeted and innovative research with measurable results in an accelerated time frame. CureSearch focuses on advancing the strongest research out of the laboratory and into clinical trials and development, where better, less-toxic treatments can quickly help children.
CureSearch Young Investigator Awards support researchers early in their careers to drive transformational science and deliver the next generation of cancer treatments.
For more information, visit curesearch.org, follow CureSearch on Twitter @curesearch or join the conversation on Facebook at facebook.com/curesearch.
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