About the Precision Paediatric Cancer Project (PPCP)
What is the Precision Paediatric Cancer Project (PPCP) partnership?
The Precision Paediatric Cancer Project (PPCP) is a New Zealand-first clinical trial jointly funded by Child Cancer Foundation and Cure Kids. The PPCP will use a new diagnostic test called Next-Generation Sequencing (NGS) to identify the genetic mutations causing cancer in the children who participate in the trial. If specific mutations are identified, this information will be used to treat the child’s cancer in the most targeted way possible.
What is a clinical trial?
A clinical trial is a method of research that studies a test or treatment given to people. Clinical trials study how safe and helpful tests and treatments are.
What is the aim of the PPCP?
The aim of the PPCP is to demonstrate that using NGS for certain cancers can improve survival, reduce side effects, and identify potential risks to other family members.
When does the PPCP start?
The PPCP began in April 2018 and was officially announced at a launch event in May 2018.
The first 18 months of the project will be dedicated to developing the NGS test and establishing technical protocols and processes. Following this, approximately 25 eligible children with cancer will be enrolled in the trial each year for four years (100-120 children in total).
Why will it take 18 months for the first children to be enrolled?
This time will be used to develop the NGS test and establishing technical protocols and processes, so results can be returned to doctors and families in a clinically relevant timeframe.
Why is the PPCP important?
Currently in New Zealand, child cancer treatment often takes a shotgun approach – injuring healthy cells while attempting to kill off cancerous cells. Life-long side effects can result, including infertility, heart problems and recurring cancer. Advances in gene sequencing (such as NGS) offer the opportunity for more precise treatment, as well as improved outcomes and quality of life for New Zealand children who have cancer.
The PPCP Clinical Trial
Who is leading the PPCP clinical trial?
The PPCP clinical trial is being led by Dr Andrew Wood from the University of Auckland, supported by a team of health professionals in Auckland and Canterbury. Dr Wood is a New Zealand-trained paediatric oncologist who worked at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, one of the world’s leading child cancer hospitals prior to returning to New Zealand to work on this research
Where will the PPCP clinical trial be based?
The PPCP will be run out of the University of Auckland, and clinical trials will take place at the Starship Blood and Cancer Centre in Auckland, and the Children's Haematology and Oncology Centre in Christchurch. These two centres manage all child cancer patients in New Zealand.
Has similar research been done before?
In the USA, Europe, and Australia there are already large-scale research projects delivering child cancer NGS results to patients and families. It is extremely difficult for New Zealand children with cancer to access these projects. The PPCP will provide eligible New Zealand child cancer patients with free access to NGS for the first time.
Can New Zealand children currently access the NGS test?
New Zealand does not currently offer the NGS test in any capacity and families of child cancer patients wishing to undergo gene sequencing have to look overseas and fund it themselves.
Which children will be able to participate in the PPCP?
The PPCP trial participants will be determined using strict eligibility criteria. The focus of the PPCP is children with difficult-to-treat or relapsed cancers. Access to the trial will only be possible through the child’s paediatric oncologist.
How do I find out if my child is eligible for the PPCP?
Child cancer patients eligible for this trial must be managed by the Starship Blood and Cancer Centre, or the Children’s Haematology Oncology Centre in Christchurch, and will have to meet strict eligibility criteria. In all cases, please speak to your treating oncologist first and they will be able to access additional information specific to your child’s eligibility.
What is involved?
Child cancer patients eligible for this programme will have a sample of cancerous tissue taken for genome sequencing. Once the cells are sequenced, the results will be analysed with the aim of identifying genetic mutations in which previous research has shown a specific treatment approach to be effective. These results will be considered by a team of oncologists, surgeons and other experts who will make treatment recommendations to the family and their lead physician.
How much will the PPCP cost parents?
There will be no charge for eligible New Zealand children to be part of the PPCP trial. The funding from Child Cancer Foundation and Cure Kids will cover the full cost of the trial.
PPCP Funding and Support
Why did Child Cancer Foundation and Cure Kids choose to invest in the PPCP?
Child Cancer Foundation and Cure Kids saw the importance of working together to have the greatest possible impact on child cancer research in New Zealand. The charities approached the New Zealand paediatric oncology community to develop a child cancer research project that could be implemented nationally, allowing eligible children to participate no matter where they live in New Zealand. The PPCP was chosen because of the potential for real-life impact for children with difficult-to-treat and relapsed cancers.
What will the PPCP cost?
Both Child Cancer Foundation and Cure Kids have committed $625,000 each to the PPCP, a total of $1.25 million over five years.
Why is Child Cancer Foundation involved in this research?
Child Cancer Foundation helps Kiwi families navigate the child cancer journey – no matter what the outcome – giving them support, strength and helping them maintain hope. Its commitment to maintaining hope for families extends to the hope of new research advances, and giving every child with cancer the best possible chance of getting better.
Why is Cure Kids involved in this research?
Cure Kids is New Zealand’s leading charitable funder of child health research and is committed to delivering improved health outcomes for children. In collaboration with Child Cancer Foundation, Cure Kids identified the need for improved treatment options for New Zealand children with cancer.