We recently returned from a San Francisco conference where the world’s leading investigators in neuroblastoma (NB) research spoke. One of the most anticipated presentations detailed the use of a vaccine showing an 80% reduction in relapse rates (or increased survival from a 30% survival rate to a 54% survival rate) and holding - six years out. This increased efficacy is huge, but just as important, these are non-invasive, non-toxic treatments with no short term and long-term life-threatening side effects. This contrasts to current treatments using brutal forms of chemotherapy and radiation, highly invasive treatments resulting in massive trauma to the child as well as leaving them to deal with life-threatening side effects.
It was immensely satisfying to see our foundation named as a supporter of this tremendously important advancement.
The team of pediatric oncologists at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center is now convinced the answer to achieving a zero-relapse rate utilizing the bivalent vaccine lies in the child’s gut flora or microbiome (consisting of bacteria, fungi, and viruses). Early research shows microbes in a child's stomach play a very significant role in their overall health, and in particular, influencing the effectiveness of cancer treatments. The team has learned key drugs used in the fight against NB are rendered useless if certain bacteria are missing in the child’s gut.
The doctors plan to compare the gut content of children who respond well to the vaccine with the gut content of children who do not. Their aim then will be to identify the optimum microbial balance in a child's gut, which would lead to transplant gut content and the development of even more effective treatments.