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Projects & Progress We Fund

With the support of all of our incredible donors from across the country, the Team Jack Foundation has committed $10.373 million to childhood brain cancer research.

THE 5 GOALS OF TEAM JACK FUNDING

Identifying new genetic mutations that cause brain tumors.

Enabling medicines to pass the blood-brain barrier.

Clinical trials of new treatments for childhood brain tumors.

Evaluating whether certain molecules that can enter the brain could treat tumors.

Helping build and support childhood brain tumor programs across the country.

Team Jack’s research investments support these five areas of focus and more cancer-fighting initiatives. Below are past, present and ongoing projects supported by Team Jack that move us closer to a cure. Learn more about each on the Team Jack Blog.

Increasing Drug Efficacy and Identifying Genetic Mutations

Team Jack awarded $275,000 to the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute and Dr. Charles Stiles to support their initiative to re-engineer current cancer-fighting drugs and boost their effectiveness. They also researched cancer-related genes and integrated those insights into the drugs they developed.

Charles Stiles

Dr. Charles Stiles

Medulloblastoma Treatment Research

With funding from Team Jack, the University of California, San Francisco tested drugs that could reprogram how certain genes are expressed—specifically genes associated with the brain cancer medulloblastoma. The drugs target mutations in some genes and could improve outcomes for children with this disease.

Phase I/II Study of MEK162 for pLGG at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute

The Children’s Hospital Los Angeles/Dana-Farber Cancer Institute launched a phase I/II clinical trial of the drug MEK162 for children with recurrent brain tumors. Team Jack provided $300,000 for the Phase I study to determine the best dose of the drug and find out the most common side effects. Phase II of the study was to determine whether MEK162 causes tumors to shrink or stop growing. This new drug will turn off mutations in a molecular growth pathway that enable tumor growth in low grade gliomas, brain cancers.

Dana-Farber Cancer Institute logo
Children's Hospital Los Angeles logo

Development of Therapeutic Strategy for DIPG

Diffuse Intrinsic Pontine Gliomas (DIPG) is the deadliest type of brain tumor in children with less than 1% survival rate. The Team Jack Foundation committed $150,000 to Dr. Richard Phillips at the University of Pennsylvania to study a very promising new therapy for the disease. In collaboration with the Therapeutics Discovery Institute at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, Dr. Phillips and his lab have developed novel EZH2 inhibitors that exhibit brain penetrance in mouse models in vitro. The overall goal of this project is to optimize and validate these novel brain-penetrant EZH2 inhibitors in vivo and characterize biomarkers of anti-tumor response to EZH2 inhibition in DIPT toward eventual use in human clinical trials. 

Dr. Richard Phillips

Dr. Richard Phillips

Heat Shock Protein (HSP) Neo-Antigen Vaccine for DIPG

In 2020, the Team Jack Foundation committed $325,000 to Dr. Ashley Plant-Fox at Lurie Children’s Hospital to study a Heat Shock Protein (HSP) Neo-Antigen Vaccine Plus Checkpoint Blockade for Diffuse Intrinsic Pontine Glioma (DIPG), the deadliest form of childhood brain cancer. This Phase I clinical trial is evaluating the safety and tolerability of rHSC-DIPGVax in combination with BALSTILIMAB and ZALIFRELIMAB. rHSC-DIPGVax is an off-the-shelf neo-antigen heat shock protein containing 16 peptides reflecting neo-epitopes found in the majority of DIPG and DMG tumors. The clinical trial officially opened and began enrolling patients in January 2022. In April 2022, the first patient received two doses and is currently doing well. This study will improve therapies for children diagnosed with DIPG.

Dr. Ashley Plant-Fox

Dr. Ashley Plant-Fox

Study of DAY101 in pLGG

This project studies the drug Tovorafenib/DAY 101 (formerly TAK 580) as a possible treatment of pLGG (pediatric low grade gliomas) that have not responded to other treatments. The Team Jack Foundation committed $300,000 to this study to study the safety of the drug and define the appropriate dosage (phase I). In 2017, Team Jack made an additional investment of $500,000 for both MEK 162 and TAK 580 to further investigate. Research in the laboratory has shown that DAY101 may have activity against cancer cells. DAY101 belongs to a group of drugs called type II BRAF inhibitors. BRAF abnormalities are found in cancer cells. There are no type II BRAF inhibitors approved by the FDA for humans at the time of this study’s start. In 2020, Day One Biopharmaceuticals acquired the rights to develop and commercialize DAY101 wordwide. In January 2023, Day One announced topline data from FIREFLY-1 trial which demonstrated meaningful responses.

University of Nebraska Medical Center Childhood Brain Tumor Program

Together with the Nebraska legislature, Team Jack has committed $3 million to the development of a childhood brain tumor program at UNMC’s Fred & Pamela Buffett Cancer Center. With the passing of LB 110 in 2015, public and private resources are continuously being raised to attract brain tumor experts to Nebraska and build a comprehensive program. The specialized treatment of pediatric brain tumors requires diagnosis and treatment recommendations from physicians who have developed brain tumor treatment as an area of sub-specialty.

Power5 Childhood Brain Tumor Initiative

As a continuation of the funding to the Nebraska Childhood Brain Tumor Program, the Team Jack Foundation launched the Power5 Childhood Brain Tumor Initiative in 2018. The Team Jack Foundation will invest $5 million at UNMC and Children’s Hospital Omaha over ten years, beginning in 2019. These dollars will fund key areas: 1. Laboratory & Clinical Research Funding laboratory research will allow experts to develop new treatments and offer them to patients through clinical trials. In addition, Omaha will be able to host other national clinical trials as well. 2. Pain Management in Cancer Investing in pain management will help develop a national protocol to help all children fighting cancer better manage pain, especially at end of life. 3. Education The education piece of the POWER5 program will help develop expertise here in Nebraska with existing medical professionals. Learn more about Power5 here.

Unraveling the Importance of Cell and Mutation Context in Oncohistone-driven pHGG

The Team Jack Foundation awarded $50,000 to Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center to allow Dr. Maya Graham to research the gaps in insights into oncohistone-mediated gliomagenesis that currently pose a barrier to therapeutic development for patients with high-grade gliomas. The proposed project will further understanding of the mechanisms underlying oncohistone-mediated transformation in pHGG and allow for rational selection of targeted therapies for this devastating disease, with implications for the broader role of epigenomic reprogramming in pediatric cancer. By Team Jack funding the early stages of Dr. Graham’s project, she was able to retrieve preliminary data for several additional grants.

Dr. Maya Graham

Dr. Maya Graham

First In-Human Clinical Trial of Novel Immunotherapy Vaccine for Brain Cancer

Primary high-grade gliomas (pHGGs) in children are almost uniformly lethal. The Team Jack Foundation has committed $100,000 to Dr. Sayour at the University of Florida to start a first-in-human clinical trial to test a novel form of immunotherapy to treat pHGG (pediatric high grade gliomas). The treatment platform which leverages the use of nanoparticles (NPs) combined with messenger RNA (mRNA) taken from the patient’s tumor to make a product that functions as both a vaccine and an agent that is capable of increasing activity of the immune system. To facilitate translation of this promising technology into first-in-human studies for pHGG, Dr. Sayour and colleagues have partnered with the Pacific Pediatric Neuro-Oncology Consortium (PNOC), where their clinical trial concept was accepted for multi-institutional trial development.

Dr. Elias Sayour

Dr. Elias Sayour

Uncovering Hidden Drivers of Low-Grade Gliomas

Team Jack has committed $490,000 at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute/Boston Children’s Cancer and Blood Disorders Center to Dr. Pratiti (Mimi) Bandopadhayhay to apply a genomic approach to identify drivers of pediatric low-grade glioma (pLGG) growth. Understanding these “mystery drivers” is critical to treating and ultimately curing pLGGs.

Dr. Mimi Bandopadhayhay

Dr. Mimi Bandopadhayay

Medulloblast
oma Research

Team Jack has committed $290,000 at the University of British Columbia to Dr. Poul Sorensen to decipher eEF2K biological functions for therapeutic targeting of pediatric medulloblastoma. The tumor microenvironment (TME) imparts potentially lethal stresses on childhood cancer cells, including oxidative stress, hypoxia, and nutrient deprivation (ND). Tumor cells must acutely adapt to these stresses to survive, potentially leading to emergence of aggressive clones with metastatic capacity.

 

Dr. Mimi Bandopadhayhay

Dr. Poul Sorensen

Medulloblast
oma Research

Team Jack has committed $628.730 at Stanford Medicine to Dr. Sabine Heitzeneder to advance the use of CAR T cells targeting GPC2 for the treatment of children and young adults with recurrent/refractory medulloblastoma to phase I clinical trials using two independent approaches.

 

Dr. Mimi Bandopadhayhay

Dr. Sabine Heitzeneder

Pediatric High-Grade Glioma Research

Team Jack has committed $179,497 at Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago to Dr. Ashley Fox. The Phase I/II trial will study pimasertib and DAY101, a novel, brain penetrant type II RAF inhibitor, in children and young adults with newly-diagnosed high-grade gliomas with specific pathogenic alterations that lead to activation of the mitogen activated protein kinase (MAPK) pathway.

 

Dr. Mimi Bandopadhayhay

Dr. Ashley Fox