ATLANTA (Nov. 1, 2022) – Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta is pleased to announce five new research projects from pediatric hematologists/oncologists at the Aflac Cancer and Blood Disorders Center aimed at targeting childhood cancers, including brain tumors, osteosarcoma and leukemia. Funding was provided by Peach Bowl, Inc. and the Peach Bowl LegACy Fund, which was established in 2019 as a $20 million commitment that is hyper-focused on funding clinical trials for the most challenging childhood cancers.
“We are grateful to the Peach Bowl LegACy Fund for their continued support of our research to advance care to treat some of the most difficult pediatric cancers,” said Douglas Graham, MD, PhD, Chief of the Aflac Cancer and Blood Disorders Center of Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta.
The overall goal of the Peach Bowl LegACy Fund is to ensure that high-priority novel agents, devices and treatment strategies can be tested in patients at an accelerated pace, eventually leading to additional treatment options. Funding is used specifically for developing drugs and novel treatments – including cellular therapies – that physicians at the Aflac Cancer and Blood Disorders Center believe have the best chance at success.
“The Peach Bowl was created to give, and we continue to follow that mission through our donation and commitment to fund the most promising clinical trials,” said Gary Stokan, Peach Bowl, Inc. CEO. “Our goal in creating the Peach Bowl LegACy Fund was to partner with Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta and give them the resources they need so that together we can work to advance treatment for childhood cancer.”
The proposed trials and studies from the pediatric hematologists/oncologists selected to receive funding include:
A Phase II Trial of Poly-ICLC for Progressive, Previously Treated Low-Grade Gliomas in Children and Young Adults
Led by Dolly Aguilera, MD, the team hopes the trial will help establish the role of immunotherapy in children with progressive low-grade gliomas which account for more than a third of childhood brain tumors. Previous research has shown that the drug, Poly-ICLC, to have fewer side effects than standard chemotherapies. The determination of the effectiveness of this therapy may pave the way for new treatment options.
Pilot Study of Atezolizumab in Combination with Stereotactic Body Radiation therapy (SBRT) and Surgery in Pediatric and AYA Patients with Pulmonary Recurrence of Osteosarcoma
This pilot study led by Thomas Cash, MD, will test whether the combination of radiation and the immunotherapy agent, atezolizumab, is safe to give in combination with surgery to bone cancer or osteosarcoma patients whose disease relapses in the lungs, and whether it is able to reduce the number of patients who relapse. Previous research has shown that combining radiation with an immune checkpoint inhibitor can stimulate the immune system and prevent new lung tumors from forming when administered along with surgery.
First-in-Child Phase I Trial of Minnelide in Malignant Pediatric Brain Tumors
Robert Craig Castellino, MD, will lead a trial in children with treatment-resistant high-grade brain tumors, one of the most aggressive childhood brain tumors. Dr. Castellino’s team will test the effectiveness of MinnelideTM, a drug which has shown promise in adults with high expression of the cancer-causing gene MYC. The trial will determine the highest tolerated dose and dose-limiting side effects, as well as the response rate of MinnelideTM in these children. Data from the trial will be used in support of a national trial to demonstrate the efficacy of MinnelideTM in high-grade pediatric brain tumors.
Repurposing Atovaquone for the Treatment of Pediatric Malignant Brain Tumors
Atovaquone is an FDA-approved anti-malarial drug recently shown to be active against cancer cells, especially in combination with radiation, and that has promoted an anti-tumor immune response by targeting the protein, STAT3. Tobey MacDonald, MD, will lead a trial to test the safety, tolerability, and preliminary efficacy of this drug when given with radiation therapy as part of standard treatment for children with currently incurable malignant brain tumors. This new trial builds off the success of the clinical investigation of a different STAT3 inhibitor, WP1066, that was previously supported by the Peach Bowl LegACy Fund and is now being proposed for a national trial for children with malignant brain tumors.
CAR T-cells for Long-Term Cure: A Risk-Based Approach to Post CD19 CAR T-cell Consolidation with Hematopoietic Stem Cell Transplantation for Pediatric, Adolescents and Young Adult B-cell Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia (The CAR-CURE Trial)
In collaboration with Nirali Shah, MD, of the National Cancer Institute (NCI) and Marie Bleakley, MD, PhD, of the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Center/Seattle Children’s, Muna Qayed, MD, will lead a trial to help establish a standard management approach in patients with high-risk resistant acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL) after they receive chimeric antigen receptor T (CART) cell immunotherapy targeting CD19. Given about half of these patients’ disease currently returns following this therapy, investigators will deploy and evaluate highly sensitive blood tests to determine if CART cells are still functional, to try to identify those patients who are likely to relapse. A reliable and sensitive blood test for ALL that can be performed more frequently may help advance ALL care management.
The Peach Bowl has a long history of giving to Children’s. Anna Charles Hollis, the six-year-old daughter of Benji Hollis, the Peach Bowl’s vice president of sales, was diagnosed with acute myeloid leukemia on April 15, 2018. Anna Charles succumbed to the disease and passed away in September 2018. Anna Charles is the inspiration for the Peach Bowl LegACy Fund, named in her honor.
About Children's Healthcare of Atlanta
As the only freestanding pediatric healthcare system in Georgia, Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta is the trusted leader in caring for kids. The not-for-profit organization’s mission is to make kids better today and healthier tomorrow through more than 60 pediatric specialties and programs, top healthcare professionals, and leading research and technology. Children’s is one of the largest pediatric clinical care providers in the country, managing more than one million patient visits annually at three hospitals, Marcus Autism Center, the Center for Advanced Pediatrics, urgent care centers and neighborhood locations. Consistently ranked among the top children’s hospitals by U.S. News & World Report, Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta has impacted the lives of kids in Georgia, across the United States and around the world for more than 100 years thanks to generous support from the community.
About Peach Bowl, Inc.
Peach Bowl, Inc. operates the Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl, one of the New Year’s Six Bowls selected to host the College Football Playoff. The Bowl has earned a reputation as one of the most competitive bowls in the country, with 53 percent of its games being decided by a touchdown or less. Peach Bowl, Inc. has disbursed $260.8 million in team payouts over its 51-year history. Peach Bowl, Inc. also leads all other bowl game organizations in charitable and scholarship contributions, committing more than $53.8 million to organizations in need since 2002. Peach Bowl, Inc. also runs the Chick-fil-A Kickoff Game, the Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl Challenge charity golf tournament, manages The Dodd Trophy national coach of the year award and led the relocation and financial foundation of the College Football Hall of Fame to Atlanta. For more information, visit Chick-fil-APeachBowl.com or follow us on Twitter at @CFAPeachBowl and find us on Facebook at Facebook.com/CFAPeachBowl.