cc-TDI joins global Cancer Grand Challenges team taking on solid tumors in children 

The Children’s Cancer Therapy Development Institute (cc-TDI) proudly announces its partnership with Team KOODAC (Knock Out Oncogenic Drivers and Curing Childhood Cancer), a global interdisciplinary team of researchers, led by Martin Eilers of the University of Wurzburg, Germany, and Yaël Mossé of Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, US, which will receive up to $25 million over 5 years to take on the challenge of creating new treatments for incurable solid tumors in children. 

Cancer remains a leading cause of death due to disease among children globally, and outcomes for some childhood cancers have not improved in more than 50 years. Cancer Grand Challenges is a global funding initiative, co-founded by Cancer Research UK and the National Cancer Institute in the US, that supports a community of global collaborators to come together, think differently, and take on some of cancer’s toughest challenges. 

Team KOODAC, one of five new global Cancer Grand Challenges teams

As part of Team KOODAC, cc-TDI will receive up to $2.5 million over 5 years to develop novel protein degrader therapeutics to target previously undruggable drivers of children’s cancer primarily for rhabdomyosarcoma and secondarily for Ewing sarcoma. Drugs that may emerge from this research could revolutionize the field of childhood cancer research and transform lives of those affected by these cancers. 

According to cc-TDI’s Scientific Director, Charles Keller, “our laboratory occupies a unique space in the childhood cancer drug development ecosystem. Nestled in the Silicon Forest in Oregon, we leverage the expertise and collaborations made possible by being adjacent to the R&D and production facilities of Intel, the medical applications leadership of NVIDIA, and the cloud computing groups of Microsoft Azure. cc-TDI’s team comprised of biologists and engineers uses computation and machine learning to accelerate drug discovery for children with cancer, making us uniquely positioned to tackle this challenge.” 

cc-TDI is excited to work with team KOODAC’s worldwide scientific collaborators who make this project award possible. Specifically, Yaël Mossé and John Maris (Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, US), Martin Eilers (Theodor-Boveri-Institute, Germany), Olivier Delattre (Curie Institute, France), Alessio Ciulli (University of Dundee, Scotland), Seychelle Vos (MIT, US), William Weiss (UC San Francisco, US), Georg Winter (Austrian Academy of Sciences, Austria), Sanford Simon (Rockefeller Institute, US) and Gwenn Hansen (Nurix Therapeutics, US). Other key partners who made this project possible include Megan’s Mission Foundation who provided the initial pilot project funding in honor and memory of Megan Bugg. Scott Crowther, a member of Team KOODAC and father to Ben, will serve as a key partner in patient and family communication with the cc-TDI laboratory team. The team is funded by Cancer Research UK, Institut National Du Cancer and KiKa (Children Cancer Free Foundation) through Cancer Grand Challenges.  

Additionally, this award was made possible thanks to significant support and connections provided by Todd Georgopapadakos, Xander’s Dad. Todd explains, “cc-TDI was able to bring rigor to the diagnostic process and discovered through traditional diagnostic processes and genetic profiling that my son had been misdiagnosed by three of the largest and leading institutions. I had the opportunity to introduce Dr. Keller to my dear friend Arthur Sands at Nurix who is working on innovative approaches to combating cancer. I saw that cc-TDI’s approach of finding the target in a disease by genetic profiling to find the massively over expressed genes, was the right one and would work well with Nurix’s targeted approach. I am thrilled to see that this partnership is delivering a promising solution and I am so grateful for the small part my son and I were able to play in it. Unfortunately, Xander was not able to be saved but we are hopeful that so many other children and adults will be.” 

Co-founded in 2020 by two of the largest funders of cancer research in the world: Cancer Research UK and the National Cancer Institute, Cancer Grand Challenges supports a global community of diverse, world-class research teams to come together, think differently and take on some of cancer’s toughest challenges. These are the obstacles that continue to impede progress and no one scientist, institution or country will be able to solve them alone. With awards of up to $25M, Cancer Grand Challenges teams are empowered to rise above the traditional boundaries of geography and discipline to make the progress against cancer we urgently need. 

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