Experimental Cancer Treatments for Kids Set

National coalition will focus on children who don't respond to traditional therapies

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MONDAY, Sept. 27, 2004 (HealthDayNews) -- A national coalition of nine academic medical centers has been created to test new cancer treatments in children who don't respond to traditional therapies.

The Pediatric Oncology Experimental Therapeutics Investigators Consortium (POETIC) began its first clinical trial on Sept. 20. An investigational drug called 17-AAG was given to an 11-year-old Florida boy who has been fighting bone cancer for three years. This trial will include about two dozen children with various forms of recurrent cancer who have not responded to other treatments.

"The importance of the consortium is that there haven't been a lot of opportunities for children with cancer to access drugs in the earliest stages of development," Dr. Stephen P. Hunger, chief of the division of pediatric hematology/oncology at the University of Florida's College of Medicine, said in a prepared statement.

The University of Florida is one of the POETIC members.

"There is nowhere else in the state of Florida where such trials are available. This gives patients throughout Florida and elsewhere in the Southeast opportunities that didn't exist otherwise. This particular trial is the first in a number of trials the consortium will conduct," Hunger said.

POETIC is currently developing half a dozen other clinical trials scheduled to begin over the coming year. The group plans to have four trials open at any given moment. That will offer a number of experimental therapy options to parents of children with cancer that hasn't responded to treatment.

Each year in the United States, about 12,000 people under the age of 20 are diagnosed with cancer. An estimated 20 percent of them don't respond to first- and second-line cancer therapies.

More information

The Nemours Foundation has more about childhood cancer.

SOURCE: University of Florida, news release, Sept. 21, 2004

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