Chasing Away Childhood Cancer

Dr. Kraveka’s Accomplishments Through Your Generosity.

Chase After a Cure was started in 2009 to help fight pediatric cancer by funding its research. To achieve this goal, our organization supports the extraordinary work of MUSC’s Dr. Jacqueline Kraveka.

Dr. Kraveka is a pediatric hematologist-oncologist here in Charleston, South Carolina and is affiliated with the Medical University of South Carolina.  She is highly involved on the national level in Children’s Oncology Group (COG), and the NMTRC. She holds the title as the Institutional Principal Investigator (PI) for all COG and NMTRC trials open at MUSC. As the institutional PI, she is responsible for the conduct of over 50 pediatric clinical trials currently open for patient enrollment at the MUSC. She is member of the COG Neuroblastoma Disease Committee and the COG Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma Committee. Dr. Kraveka has lent a helping hand in the design of numerous clinical trials for children with neuroblastoma. She is involved in the first clinical trial of personalized medicine in pediatric cancer and is the Rare Tumor Study Chair of the NMTRC clinical trial, NMTRC 008: A Feasibility Trial using Molecular-Guided Therapy for the Treatment of Patients with Relapsed and Refractory Childhood Cancer. This is an open label, multicenter prospective study to evaluate the ability of using genome-wide expression profiles of a child’s tumor along with DNA mutation panels to predict individual therapies for patients. This study outlines an approach by which we can use our expanding knowledge of the individual genetics of tumors to understand the mechanisms which cause tumors to grow. This knowledge is then used to identify specific targeted therapies for each patient.

Dr. Kraveka’s research laboratory, located in the Darby Children’s Research Institute, is the only laboratory in the state of South Carolina dedicated to translational pediatric cancer research. This laboratory’s primarily focuses on neuroblastoma and on identifying and developing new treatments for this deadly disease. The goal of her research is to develop new treatments for children that will be more effective and have fewer side effects. Her laboratory research focuses on sphingolipid based therapeutics. Sphingolipids make up cell membranes and play important roles in cancer cell growth. Targeting sphingolipid metabolism has been shown to be a novel and effective method of cancer cell destruction.

In 2014, Dr. Kraveka was awarded $20,000 through Childhood Cancer Research’s competitive peer review process, to support her research on “Targeting Dihydroceramide Desaturase in Neuroblastoma.” Kraveka stated that the funds from this grant will be used to develop and test inhibitors to the dihydroceramide desaturase enzyme in neuroblastoma. It is our hope that this research will lead to new treatments for children with neuroblastoma. Support from the Rally Foundation Childhood Cancer Research and Vs. Cancer Foundation is critically important to support this research, which will benefit children with neuroblastoma.”

With the funding of Beat NB Cancer Foundation, Dr. Kraveka collaborated Giselle Sholler on a research that found that oral therapy with DFMO reduces the rate of relapse and significantly increases survival for children with high-risk neuroblastoma. DMFO works by specific cancer stem cell pathways and “turning off” the cells, thereby preventing the cancer from growing back. Through this method of treatment the amount of side effects that patients endure are drastically reduced with an 88% chance of survival.  This is nearly a 20% increase from the typical survival rate for children two years into remission. In addition, the study demonstrated a 99% overall survival rate for 2 years. It is hoped that treatment with DFMO will prevent neuroblastoma patients from relapsing. Currently ~ 50% of children with high-­‐risk neuroblastoma will relapse after completion of upfront therapy. Six patients have already been enrolled in with results from the DFMO trial appearing to be very promising.

In December of last year a new trial for newly diagnosed patients was opened, NMTRC 012: PEDS-­‐PLAN -­‐ Pediatric Precision Laboratory Advanced Neuroblastoma Therapy. A Pilot Study Using Molecular-­‐Guided Therapy along with Induction Chemotherapy for Subjects with Newly Diagnosed High-­‐Risk Neuroblastoma. Kraveka held the pilot chair for the study, which incorporates molecular profiling of the patient’s tumor at diagnosis, and add a targeted agent to the standard treatment of children with newly diagnosed high-­‐risk neuroblastoma. The aim of this study is that this new approach will further improve cure rates for these  children.

Your support since 2009 for Chase After a Cure has resulted in 13 publications, over 400 citations, 5 invited presentations and 21 oral and poster presentations and national and international meetings. Through your support Kraveka and her staff have generated preliminary data that supported our proposals for peer-­‐ reviewed funding from the National Childhood Cancer Foundation, Hyundai Hope on Wheels, Rally Foundation for Pediatric Cancer Research, and the St. Baldrick’s Foundation. Your funds have helped support and fund the work of 3 scientists in the lab, purchase key equipment for our lab, subsidize the cost of lab experiments and consumables such as reagents, pipettes, tissue culture plates and improve access to cutting edge clinical trials for the children of South Carolina. Without your generosity this research program would cease to exist. Only research can find a cure for cancer.