VICTORIA - The Province will provide $2 million in one-time funding to the Michael Cuccione Foundation to support research into new treatments for childhood cancer, Premier Gordon Campbell announced today.
"We are committed to promoting and supporting research that will improve cancer outcomes, to ensure that children with cancer and their families have the best treatment possible," said Premier Campbell. "This $2 million will be used to research new, cutting-edge strategies for treating childhood cancer, to develop highly specific treatments that will have low side-effects."
"The $2 million will be used to complete the Michael Cuccione Laboratory for Pediatric Oncology," said Gloria Cuccione, Michael's mother and foundation executive director. "With this dedicated oncology research laboratory, the Child & Family Research Institute at BC Children's Hospital will be able to attract world-renowned scientists who are leaders in the search for a cure for childhood cancers."
The research will be carried out at the Child & Family Research Institute affiliated with BC Children's Hospital. Clinical trials will also be conducted at the hospital.
Founded in 1997, the Michael Cuccione Foundation works to fund childhood cancer research, provide emotional support to cancer patients and their families as well as conduct motivational speaking engagements throughout Canada and around the world. The foundation was established by Michael Cuccione, who after being diagnosed with cancer at age 9, began a personal fight against childhood cancer and challenged others to collectively make a difference. Michael beat cancer but died at age 16 from respiratory failure related to his cancer treatments.
The aim of the foundation is to establish the Michael Cuccione Childhood Cancer Research program that will be the best in Canada and a leader in the world.
Every year, one child in 8,000 under the age of 17 will develop cancer. Twenty years ago, 70 per cent of children diagnosed with cancer died. Today, due to advances in research, over 80 per cent of them survive. This improving survival rate creates a growing need for long-term follow-up of late effects.
Researchers at the Child & Family Research Institute, the only centre for childhood cancer research in British Columbia, are working to further improve survival rates and to develop targeted treatments that minimize harmful side-effects on the child.
For this rate to drop further, continued research is needed, as well as a continued commitment to funding research into childhood cancer and its treatment.
"Childhood cancers are rare and affect about 150 children in British Columbia each year," said Dr. Kirk Schultz, head of the oncology research program at the Child & Family Research Institute and pediatric oncologist at BC Children's Hospital. "The best way to control cancer in our children is an accurate diagnosis and safe, effective treatment. The research grant from the Province will help, as we know little about what causes childhood cancer, which limits opportunities for prevention."
The Province has invested more than $1.5 billion in research and innovation since 2001, including significant investments in research to improve treatments and seek cures for major health-care challenges such as cancer, depression and spinal cord injuries.
Government is committed to improving health services delivery for all children and youth in B.C. In April 2008, the BC Children's Hospital Foundation joined government in announcing a fundraising campaign towards a new acute/critical care building for BC Children's Hospital.