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Braden’s Hope for Childhood Cancer “Hope Connect” Annual Research Update

Braden's Hope annual research update

Braden’s Hope for Childhood Cancer held its Hope Connect Annual Research Update on March 21 to celebrate the achievements in childhood cancer research made possible by its donors. Hosted at the Children’s Mercy Research Institute, the event featured Braden’s Hope awards totaling $5.5 million, which includes advancing six collaborative research projects led by teams of investigators from Children’s Mercy Kansas City and the University of Kansas Cancer Center.

Dr. J. Steven Leeder, PharmD, PhD, Interim Executive Director of the Children’s Mercy Research Institute, opened the update by emphasizing the importance of collaborative research funded by Braden’s Hope. 

“Thanks to Braden’s Hope our research projects not only include investigators at Children’s Mercy and KU Cancer Center, but those across the US and Mexico. Today, a total of 13 institutions and 42 researchers are involved in Braden’s Hope research projects,” Dr. Leeder said. “This is important because together we are stronger – thanks to Braden’s Hope, we are able to share our knowledge across multiple institutions – with the goal to bring more hope to kids right here in the Midwest.”

Children’s Mercy is the consortium partner with KU Cancer Center—the region’s only NCI comprehensive cancer center. Comprehensive status is the highest level of recognition awarded by the National Cancer Institute and represents the gold standard for cancer centers.

Braden’s Hope funded projects include:

·       Advancing new treatment options for children and young adults diagnosed with Ewing Sarcoma—led by investigators Terrie Flatt, DO, MA, and Andrew Godwin, PhD

·       Developing targeted therapies for children with a uniquely devastating type of leukemia—led by investigators Erin Guest, MD, John Perry, PhD, and Jay Vivian, PhD

·       Identifying drugs that specifically kill sarcoma cells with one Ewing sarcoma Region 1 gene while sparing normal, healthy cells—led by investigators Tomoo Iwakuma, MD, PhD, and Mizuki Azuma, PhD

·       Understanding how a tumor’s genetic makeup affects its response to T cell therapy—led by Midhat Farooqi, MD, PhD

·       Stimulating the immune system to find and kill cancer stem cells by using a classic chemotherapy drug in a targeted way —led by John Perry, PhD

·       Developing a new compound that kills cancer cells lacking p53, an important tumor suppressor found in the body—led by Tomoo Iwakuma, MD, PhD

As part of the update, Deliece Hofen, President of Braden’s Hope, held a panel discussion with the funded researchers who answered questions about their work. Deliece knows first-hand the importance of advancing research for kids. Her youngest son, Braden, battled childhood cancer three times, starting when he was just three years old. During Braden’s second battle with cancer, he faced the words "no known cure" and his odds for survival were less than 10 percent. 

“Thankfully, my son Braden has defied all odds and is now living cancer-free; however, he lives with many long-term health complications based on the harsh treatment he received at such a young age,” Hofen said. “Our goal at Braden's Hope, is for all families to receive the best, cutting-edge treatment available, without having to leave Kansas City. We want to give children and families diagnosed with cancer, hope for a future because no family should ever have to hear the words: no known cure.” 


Children's Mercy Research Institute